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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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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A victory on tenant security, but the campaign continues

After reports in the Sunday papers, late yesterday afternoon the Ministry of Housing published its long-awaited consultation paper on "Overcoming Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector".

It allows us a moment to celebrate the first success of the End Unfair Evictions campaign: an acceptance by the government that private tenancy law is failing England's tenants - just as our petition passes 40,000 signatures

Leaving the detail of the policy to one side for now, it is significantly the first time the government has considered a change to tenancy law. Up to now ministers have been talking of merely "encouraging" landlords to offer better terms - while most landlords might do this, a lot of tenants would get no benefit. We have been arguing that we need full reform and, while incentives are still an option, mandatory reform is now on the table.

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Protection from revenge evictions a postcode lottery

This week we launched the End Unfair Evictions coalition with ACORNLondon Renters Union, and New Economics Foundation. We're calling for an end to Section 21, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason. 

One reason we're doing is that existing protections are not working in practice.

Back in 2014/15, we fought a hard campaign alongside Shelter, GMB Young London and others to give tenants basic protection from eviction when they complained about their landlord. 

The resulting measures in the Deregulation Act 2015 stopped landlords from serving a Section 21 eviction notice to tenants if the council had found hazards in the property and served an appropriate improvement notice on the owner. This protection lasted for 6 months and was meant to give tenants more confidence in getting their landlord to fix health and safety problems, because the landlord can no longer simply retaliate by kicking them out.

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New mayoral strategy develops plans for London's private renters

Two million tenants in London will welcome the fact that getting a fairer deal for private renters is one of the Mayor of London’s five priorities for housing in the London Housing Strategy, which was published at the end of May. Given that Sadiq Khan’s housing powers are highly limited, what is his strategy promising to private renters in London?

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