Government will scrap Section 21 evictions in campaign victory for private renters

The Government will scrap section 21, ending ‘no fault’ evictions in England that have caused misery and hardship for millions of private renters and eroded our communities. This morning's announcement also said insecure fixed-term tenancies will go and a new, open-ended tenancy will be created.

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This really is fantastic news for private renters. Section 21 allows landlords to evict without providing a reason and stops private renters from asking for repairs and enforcing their rights for fear of revenge eviction. Section 21 means tenants can be turfed out of their homes and neighbourhoods with just two months’ notice, and the anxiety and stress that the knowledge this can happen to you causes is very tangible, particularly for families and older renters.

These unfair, unplanned evictions force people into debt, and are a leading cause of the awful levels of homelessness which we can all see around us. And the excessive flexibility that section 21 gives landlords encourages the buy-to-let market, which has driven up prices and locked so many of us out of homeownership.

At Generation Rent we’ve been calling for section 21 to be abolished for years, and last summer we joined forces with London Renters Union, ACORN, Tenants Union UK, and the New Economics Foundation to launch the End Unfair Evictions campaign.

With the help of our amazing activists and supporters we collected 50,000 signatures on a petition to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire calling for an end to section 21 and thousands also wrote to their MPs and into a government consultation on security of tenure for private renters. We trained up tenants to speak to the media about their own section 21 experiences, and the London Mayor along with 13 councils across the country have formally backed the campaign to end no-fault evictions, with many more in the process of doing so.

It’s also been great to have a diverse range of organisations join our call to end section 21; last year our campaign got support from Independent Age, Centrepoint, Children England, Crisis, and even the Times. Shelter and IPPR came out for an end to section 21 in January, and in March the Centre for Social Justice also said section 21 needs to go.

Today our hard work is paying off. The Conservative government announced this morning that private renters in England will be able to stay in their homes as long as they like without being locked in, unless the landlord proves legitimate grounds for possession. And in Wales on Saturday, the First Minister announced an end to no-fault eviction for Welsh tenants.  

One in five people are now private renting, and that figure is much higher in some areas. Politicians are realising that we are a growing political force to be reckoned with, and they can no longer ignore our calls for a radical overhaul to make private renting a tenure fit to live in in the 21st century.

The announcement that the government will end section 21 evictions and create open-ended tenancies is brilliant, but it’s also just the start. We’ve got to make sure that the detail of this policy is right for renters, and we’ll be working with government and feeding into their forthcoming consultation on this.

For example, we know they’ll allow grounds for landlords to evict if they want to sell the property or move back in, so we need make sure that tenants evicted for these reasons get a longer notice period than the current two months, compensation to mitigate the financial hardship of an unwanted move, and that there are safeguards such as requiring landlord to prove they really do intend to sell. We can learn from Scotland, where open-ended tenancies were introduced in 2017, to ensure that the new tenancy achieves its potential for renters. We also need to make sure that rent rises are capped or can be effectively challenged within the new tenancy.  

Ending no fault evictions won’t make the difference needed if landlords can increase the rent by hundreds of pounds a month to drive out tenants economically if they report a leak.

We’ll be working with private renters to get the details of this new tenancy right and ensure tenants can easily feed into the government consultation when that comes out. Make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list if you’re keen to feed in your own experiences. In the meantime, a well-deserved pat on the back for all our amazing campaign partners and supporters. The announcement that section 21 will be scrapped is a huge victory for private renters. A home where you feel secure is vital for all of us if we are to thrive in our lives, to our families, and our communities, and today we’re a step closer to this.

 

MEDIA COVERAGE (A SELECTION)

The Times (registration needed)

The Guardian

Huffington Post

Left Foot Forward

Sky News: https://youtu.be/aSZTWs4ZbJM 

A longer round up is over on the End Unfair Evictions website

Showing 6 reactions

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  • David Abbs
    commented 2019-04-26 20:44:24 +0100
    Professor Bourne has written about the proposed abolition of Section 21 in today’s Telegraph.

    “One feature of post-1989 housing policy, including the birth of fixed-term “assured short-hold tenancies”, has been entry into the market of huge numbers of individual landlords owning a small number of properties.

    Under the Government’s plan, they could get stuck with a difficult tenant, or locked out from accessing their own property.

    The results of this policy are therefore obvious to anyone who understands basic economics. First, landlords will be far less likely to rent to tenants they consider high-risk. The incentive to engage in serious vetting, demanding extensive guarantees from tenants, will skyrocket.

    Second, fewer landlords will remain in the sector and new, potential landlords will be less likely to consider it an attractive investment. All this reduced supply will, of course, raise rents further.”
    https://www-telegraph-co-uk.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/04/26/no-fault-evictions-ban-epitomises-paucity-tory-economic-thinking/amp/?amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s&share=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraph.co.uk%2Fbusiness%2F2019%2F04%2F26%2Fno-fault-evictions-ban-epitomises-paucity-tory-economic-thinking%2F

    The professor does not subscribe to Dan Wilson Craw’s crackpot theory that for every tenant evicted another tenant becomes a first time buyer.

    The abolition of S 21 will reduce the supply of rental accommodation, and increase rents. So why do you celebrate it as a victory? Some members of Generation rent will pay more rent and some will be made homeless.

    Of course, neither will apply to Craw because he’s not a renter. He went back to live with his parents, as he told us on the Eddie Nestor radio programme in November 2016. It’s like having a vegan running the Cattle Breeders Club.

    Solicitor David Smith, policy director of the RLA said recently “I’m not sure that all tenants’ rights groups necessarily represent the interests of all tenants”.
    https://www.propertytribes.com/end-of-section-21-makes-btl-credit-negative-t-127639963.html#pid383677

    You mean like Generation Rent, David?
  • David Abbs
    commented 2019-04-17 11:05:27 +0100
    “The Government will scrap section 21, ending ‘no fault’ evictions in England that have caused misery and hardship for millions (sic) of private renters and eroded our communities.”
    This is using a new counting convention: One two, miss a few, 99, a million.

    “These unfair, unplanned evictions force people into debt, and are a leading cause of the awful levels of homelessness which we can all see around us.” It includes a link to:
    https://www.generationrent.org/no_fault_evictions_drive_up_homelessness

    That is a blog by Dan Wilson Craw, purveyor of economic nonsense and shameless manipulator of figures:
    https://www.property118.com/generation-rent-tries-hoodwink-policymakers/

    He claims “Section 21 is the leading cause of statutory homelessness.” even though it is not a cause at all
    https://www.property118.com/shelters-website-says-section-21-not-cause-homelessness/

    He praises a report by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the rise of Section 21 in 2017. In fact the report said that changes in benefits have made rents unaffordable to benefit claimants in many areas, and as a result tenants on low incomes are being evicted,  However, this report was hijacked and turned into an attack on Section 21:
    https://www.property118.com/poverty-evictions-forced-moves/
  • David Abbs
    commented 2019-04-17 10:59:52 +0100
    Joe Speye is a commentator on social housing . Below are some of his opinions on the abolition of S 21:

    “The proposed banning of no fault evictions only shows no sane rational person would put @Conservatives or @Shelter or @genrentuk in charge of #housing policy for a Wendy House!” https://twitter.com/SpeyeJoe/status/1117752376587358210?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    “Ban no-fault evictions? It means: (a) increased homelessness (b) increased domestic violence © increased rents (d) more NO DSS (e) lot of EVERY renter is WORSE (f) huge increase in LA homeless cost.”

    https://twitter.com/SpeyeJoe/status/1117745762774016001?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    “Yet today we see Polly Neate the chief executive of Shelter and previously chief executive of Women’s Aid lauding the proposed removal of the no fault eviction on mainstream TV, radio and across social media when the policy will see more homeless on the streets and more women having to suffer domestic violence and abuse because there is nowhere they can flee to that is available! ”
    https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/ban-no-fault-evictions-why-this-is-dangerously-worse-for-all-renters/
  • Alex John
    commented 2019-04-17 08:34:38 +0100
    It has to be pointed out however that this is further disincentivising landlords and will ultimately reduce the rental supply.

    In any event, a section 21 isn’t an eviction. It’s simply stating that the landlord does not wish to renew the tenancy. It’s a fixed term tenancy, which has an end date, which both parties agreed to at the start of the tenancy.

    Let’s consider the factors that the prospective landlord is weighing up:

    1. If I buy this house to rent out, I will pay 3% on top of whatever stamp duty I would ordinarily have paid
    2. I will be unable to deduct mortgage interest at anything higher than basic rate income tax
    3. And now I can’t end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term

    Hmmm…no thanks, I think I’ll invest my money in something else!
  • David Foster
    commented 2019-04-16 11:15:33 +0100
    Congratulations on your brilliant and heartening success ! Now that the threat of retaliatory eviction will be removed you need to ensure private tenants can use the courts to claim compensation for disrepair and bad conditions and an order for repairs/improvements from the county court to achieve this you need to :-

    1. Restore scope of Legal Aid to cover claims for damages for disrepair.
    2. Change Legal Aid contracts of suppliers/Legal Aid Regs to allow Legal Aid solicitors to use delegated functions to grant Emergency Certificates for legal representation including the obtaining of a surveyor’s report.
    3. Restore scope of Legal Aid to cover enforcement of injunctions and damages awards under housing contracts for Legal Aid.
    4. Oppose the creation of a Housing Tribunal to replace the county court because no Legal Aid would be available for legal representation in a Tribunal.

    As private rents are high so would compensation awards as general damages are based on a percentage of the annual rent for the period of distress and inconvenience. Compared to introducing no fault evictions the legal changes needed would be minor. There are specialist housing lawyers out there trained up to do this work. The Housing Law Practitioners Association under its constitution must foster the interests of tenants and homeless applicants and so they should back you. I was a founder member and would back you 100%.
  • Francisca Rigaud
    commented 2019-04-15 13:38:19 +0100
    In Portugal, where I come from, contracts used to be 5 years, now I think 3, but the tenant is free to leave with a 2 month notice and that is great. No one should be tied to contracts that will eventually cost them a huge amount of money in case life changes and therefore their needs change, neither rental contracts no mobile phone ones, insurances, Internet or anything! We need to be flexible without breaking the bank and let’s be honest…. if you are happy with the service you get or the house you live in and there are no changes you will probably stay loyal for many years! That said… with every change so far there come setbacks, this time the possibility of seeing your rent go up so much that you have to move anyway! The same goes for the recent change making it possible to sue your landlord…. and of course Wales is always behind so who knows how many years it will take for the changes to be implemented here!