In what could be the biggest change to the Private Rental Sector for many years, the government has announced it is consulting on whether to make fundamental changes to Section 21 notices. If the changes go ahead, landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants without providing a very good reason. The government claims the proposed measures will “make the housing market fit for the 21 century”.
Prime Minister Theresa May says tenants need greater security when renting a home in the private sector, with tenants often evicted with very little notice.
“This is wrong,” she says, “And today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. Landlords will still be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reasons to do so, but they will no longer be able to unexpectedly evict families with only eight weeks’ notice.”
“This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”
Section 21 notices are ‘no-fault’ notices. Many landlords use them if they want their property back at short notice. They can issue a Section 21 notice at the end of a fixed tenancy, without giving the tenant a reason. Housing charities say this is causing a lot of distress to vulnerable tenants, especially those with children.
“Eleven million people in England have no idea where home will be in a year’s time, thanks to Section 21,” says tenant pressure group, Generation Rent. “The ability of landlords to evict without reason is disrupting educations, eroding our communities, and leaving tenants feeling powerless. The government has listened to renters and has made the right decision.”
Citizens Advice is also pleased with the news. They say amending Section 21 notices will protect the 5+ million households currently living in the private rental sector.
“It means renters – including families – will be able to put down stable roots where they live and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for simply complaining,” says Gillian Guy from the CAB.
If the government goes ahead and makes the planned amendments to Section 21 notices, landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants without providing a good reason. They will have to provide evidence of a breach of tenancy or have a very good reason. In light of the fact that landlords often use Section 21 notices to evict problem tenants, the government will make changes to court processes so tenants can be evicted sooner if they are in breach of their tenancy agreement, for example, if they haven’t paid the rent.
RICS is Critical
The RICS has waded into the debate. It says that no-fault evictions are rare, and most landlords prefer to keep good tenants, not evict them. It believes the announcement about a Section 21 consultation is being done to score political points. It hopes that a thorough consultation will find that no-fault evictions are rare and the amendments will be scrapped.
The fear is that further pressures heaped on landlords will cause even more to desert the sector, which is the last thing anyone wants.