What is Section 21 and why does it need to be scrapped?

Landlords can remove tenants without giving a reason. That’s unfair and it needs to change.

Most of England’s 11 million renters are on contracts with fixed terms of six months or a year; after this period has ended, landlords can evict their tenants with just two months’ notice – and without even giving them a reason. These ‘no fault evictions’ were introduced under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. Before this, private tenants had much greater security and it was much harder for landlords to evict tenants who paid the rent on time and looked after the property. The government has finally decided to consult on ways of improving renter security, but - while there are some promising aspects to their proposals - they suggest that no-fault evictions will remain. Generation Rent, the New Economics Foundation, ACORN and the London Renters Union are launching a campaign to abolish section 21.

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Is Onward's policy Right to Buy for private renters?

Right to Buy was electoral gold dust to the Conservatives back in the 1980s, but since council homes were sold off unreplaced, and the social housing sector dwindled, it has lost its lustre. With housing policy the key to winning over today’s 18 to, er, 45 year olds, it’s no wonder some in the party have taken up alchemy.

Onward, a think tank peopled by former government advisers, thinks it has the answer, which is about as close to Right to Buy for private tenants as we’re likely to get. Because the property is not the state’s to sell, it’s merely Chance to Buy.

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May removes yet another obstacle to council home building

This week has been the Conservative Party's conference, and their chance to match Labour's pledges to abolish Section 21 and seed-fund renters' unions. 

There is a lot of worry among the party faithful that they are not doing enough about housing - the defining political issue of a generation. But with consultation responses on security being scrutinised by officials back in Whitehall, and Help to Buy facing negative attention, their options were narrow.

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Mayor of London backs indefinite tenancies

At the Labour party conference this week, delegates adopted a motion to (among other things) "Help private renters with an end to ‘no fault’ evictions, controls on rents and new minimum standards, including three year tenancies as standard." 

The BBC reported on this commitment, but beyond the wording of this motion and John Healey's speech, we haven't had any more detail of what this would entail. 

Luckily, Sadiq Khan has obliged. While the Mayor of London is not a member of the Shadow Cabinet, last week's publication of his response to the government's consultation on longer tenancies revealed that he is calling for much the same thing, plus some more idea of what it might look like in practice.

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Labour signs up to #endsection21

We kind of knew this already, but Labour is officially backing our campaign to end Section 21 and will scrap landlords' ability to evict tenants without giving a reason. It was reported by the BBC this morning, was part of the shadow Housing Secretary John Healey's speech in the conference centre, and then a motion on housing that included it was passed.

This follows members of the End Unfair Evictions doing a lot of work behind the scenes to successfully get local Labour parties to support the motion.

An even bigger piece of news was a £20m pot to jumpstart tenants' unions in the UK, reported by the Independent

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Before you rent: How to protect your legal rights

Finding a flat to rent in England can be tough. The stress only compounds when things don’t go as planned. When I lived in London, I got caught out when my landlord insisted on “renegotiating” the tenancy terms after I had paid a holding deposit (a troublingly common practice in the market).

Here are twelve things tenants can do to protect their rights, which helped me succeed in my legal claim against my landlord.

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Cabinet split over tenancy reform

On Wednesday, the Sun reported that 10 Downing Street and the Treasury are blocking moves to legislate for longer tenancies.

Although the recently closed consultation left open the question of making the new tenancy mandatory or voluntary, the same newspaper had previously reported that the Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, wanted all tenants to get it.

That sets up a big internal government battle over tenants' rights as the Conservative Party worries more and more about winning over younger voters. 

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Public backs better security for renters

As the consultation period on the government's proposals for longer tenancies draws to a close - the deadline to respond is this Sunday - we are handing in our End Unfair Evictions petition to the Ministry of Housing today. It passed 50,000 signatures on Tuesday, helped along by #VentYourRent.

And if that wasn't enough to make the government pay attention, new polling from Survation finds that our demands have the backing of the wider public, including Conservative voters.

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No-fault evictions drive up homelessness

Section 21 is the leading cause of statutory homelessness. This law allows evictions with no reason needed, and this is one more reason why we should scrap it.

To some extent, this is stating the bleeding obvious. Since 2012, the end of a private tenancy has been the leading cause of homelessness cases accepted by local authorities, but until now no one has specifically pointed the finger at Section 21. Today, we've been able to demonstrate it.

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Source: Ministry of Housing

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Proof that millions of renters are failed by unfair rental laws

The latest English Housing Survey was out last week, and the results are further evidence for what we’ve been arguing for years: England’s rental laws are making life insecure and expensive for growing numbers of people.  

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Four early victories for the End Unfair Evictions campaign

It is less than a month since we launched our joint campaign - with ACORN, the New Economics Foundation and the London Renters Union - to end section 21 no-fault evictions, and we've already had some major successes. 

Here are four things we can celebrate already.

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