The Government announced today that it will ban landlords from evicting tenants at short notice without good reason, as part of its continued shake-up of the private rental sector.
The move has been met with mixed responses, with campaign groups welcoming the move, while landlords have expressed concern.
The announcement comes just weeks before a law comes into force that bans the majority of fees currently charged by letting agents and capping deposits at a maximum of five weeks’ rent. It is estimated that it will save renters in England £240 million per annum.
Section 21 evictions
Section 21 evictions are controversial as they allow landlords to evict tenants at the end of their contract with just eight weeks’ notice, and without having to give a reason.
With 4.5 million private rental homes in the UK and around 11 million people living in those homes, organisations such as Shelter have stated that eviction from private tenancies is the leading cause of homelessness in the UK.
The Government wants to ban Section 21 evictions, effectively creating open-ended tenancies for renters. Landlords would have to give a ‘concrete reason specified in law’ before they would be able to evict tenants from their property. Such reasons would include non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour.
This would represent a significant shift in the power balance between tenants and landlords, giving greater security to renters.
Under the proposals, landlords seeking to evict tenants would have to use the Section 8 legislation, which can be used when a tenant has ceased to pay rent, has been involved in criminal or anti-social behaviour, or has damaged the property.
The proposals would extend the scope of Section 8 to include situations such as landlords wanting to move into the property or sell it. Unlike Section 21 evictions, Section 8 can be appealed by the tenant.
Announcing the plans, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves – not have it made for them.
‘For many, this means having the security and stability to make a place truly feel like home without the fear of being evicted at a moments’ notice.’
But David Smith, from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), believes the move is ill-advised, and could actually cause more problems for tenants.
‘Section 21 notices are used by landlords for lots of reasons, most obviously when they want to sell a property, but actually half of the time they’re used because there is a good reason – like rent arrears or problems with antisocial behaviour,’ he said.
He continued: ‘If landlords lose section 21 then there’s a risk they’ll feel the sector is no longer worth their investment because the risk factors increase.
‘There is a risk that they’ll feel reluctant to let in more marginal tenants because it’ll be too risky for them to do so and that’ll mean a potential risk in supply which will impact the poor in society more than anyone else.’