Landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice without good reason under new proposals from the government.
The government has outlined plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions – so called ‘no-fault’ evictions – to give tenants extra long-term security.
Many tenants live with the worry of being evicted at short notice or continue to live in poor accommodation for fear they will be asked to leave if they complain about problems with their home.
Evidence shows that the end of tenancies through the Section 21 process is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Currently, private landlords can uproot tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract has come to an end.
Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, says the proposed changes will effectively create open-ended tenancies.
Prime Minister Theresa May says everyone renting in the private sector has “the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence."
“This is wrong – 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.”
Mr Brokenshire says: “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.
“And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so.”
What is Section 21?
Section 21 is the legal process landlords can use to evict tenants. However, they do not need to provide a reason once a tenancy ends.
Landlords can use a Section 21 notice to evict tenants after a fixed-term tenancy ends and if there’s a written contract or during a tenancy with no fixed end date - known as a periodic tenancy.
Tenants who made a formal complaint had a 46% chance of being issued with a section 21 eviction notice in the following six months, research from Citizens Advice found.
It has also found that revenge evictions have affected 141,000 tenants since laws attempting to ban them were introduced in 2015.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: “Scrapping no-fault evictions is a groundbreaking shake-up of the private rented sector and will better protect the almost five million households who live in it.
“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.”
However, landlords are warning of serious dangers to the supply of rental housing for vulnerable tenants as a result of planned reforms.
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “With the demand for private rented homes continuing to increase, we need the majority of good landlords to have confidence to invest in new homes.
“This means ensuring they can swiftly repossess properties for legitimate reasons such as rent arrears, tenant anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell them. This needs to happen before any moves are made to end Section 21.”
Paul Wootton, Nationwide’s director of home propositions, says: “Removing the uncertainty and insecurity caused by short term tenancies and the constant threat of eviction is an important step in creating a modern private rented sector.
“Tenants who are paying rent and not breaching tenancy agreements should be able to stay in their home unless the landlord has legitimate reasons for ending the tenancy.
“It will be important to ensure more efficient court processes are put in place to help support a reformed eviction process.”
The government did not indicate how long the consultation will last.