No-fault evictions to be abolished

15 Apr 19

Proposals to scrap unfair ‘no-fault’ tenant evictions in England have been outlined by the government.

Abolishing section 21 evictions will allow private renters to feel more settled as landlords would no longer be able to evict people with “little justification”, the prime minister has said.

The government noted that section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness, and has today outlined plans to consult on new legislation to replace it.

The present law gives landlords to power to evict tenants with just eight weeks’ notice after the end of a fixed-term contract. Tenants often fear they will be evicted if they complain about problems with their home, the government said. 

Prime minister Theresa May commented: “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.

“But millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.

“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 8 weeks’ notice.”

Under the proposals, landlords will have to provide concrete, evidence-based reason for bringing tenancies to an end.

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Around a third of all families that councils accepted as homeless last year were made homeless by the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy. We therefore look forward to exploring the detail of the proposals that aim to ensure that landlords cannot evict tenants without sufficient warning or justification.

“However, the proposal does not address the unaffordability of housing which is a key reason why many families lose their tenancy and become homeless. To address this, the government needs to adapt welfare reforms, and reform right to buy so that councils can build more genuinely affordable council homes.”

David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, warned that getting the reforms wrong could lead to “serious dangers”.

“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,” he said.

Read Neil Merrick’s feature for PF on the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act, one year on from its implementation.

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