No-fault evictions are being scrapped in England and Wales in a bid to give renters more security.
Under current laws, section 21 orders mean that renters can be evicted with two months’ notice with no reason required from the landlord.
That state of affairs has seen campaigners at Generation Rent collect a 50,000 signature-strong petition calling for legislation to be axed, warning that it leaves tenants feeling insecure and unable to put down roots as well fearing revenge eviction for complaints or repairs.
Ending Section 21 evictions will transform the lives of England's 11 million renters, giving them room to breathe and finally put down roots. One in four families privately rent, as do hundreds of thousands of older people. #EndSection21 pic.twitter.com/LyrsjzkBZf
— Shelter (@Shelter) April 15, 2019
The campaign has pressured the government into searching for a new method for landlords to regain their properties with the launch of consultation today.
In the meantime, landlords will be forced to use section eight orders – where a reason must be given and tenants have a right to appeal – with governing bodies warning that the change will see courts inundated with rental disputes as a result of the change.
But the government has said that axing section 21 evictions will effectively create open-ended tenancies and remove the fear of being turfed out of their homes for more than four million Brits living in private rented accommodation.
Even this Government can no longer ignore that the private rented sector is unfit for purpose. Now that the call from City Hall & renters' rights campaigners to scrap section 21 evictions has been successful – we'll keep the pressure on Govt to introduce rent controls in London. pic.twitter.com/3lDFFjjqAh
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 15, 2019
“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,” said Prime Minister Theresa May.
“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.”
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The loss of a private rented property remains one of the most common reasons for homelessness and Generation Rent have estimated that as many as 11,247 homelessness cases in London could be put down to section 21 in 2017.
The campaigners’ policy and public affairs manager Hannah Slater said: “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.”
— Crisis (@crisis_uk) April 15, 2019
However, landlords have hit back and stressed that they will now be forced to go through the courts to regain their properties from tenants who are in rent arrears, slamming the section eight process as slow, costly and inefficient.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, said: “The onus is on the government to get this right. It’s entirely dependent on the government’s ability to re-balance the system through section eight and court process so that it works for landlords and tenants alike.
“The government should look to Scotland, where they reformed the court system before thinking about changing how tenancies work. If the government introduces yet another piece of badly thought-out legislation, we guarantee there will be chaos.”
The Government’s own data shows that it takes over five months from a private landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening > https://t.co/3SwhfhTMbO https://t.co/QUkjtcoOjv
— RLA Landlord News (@RLA_News) April 15, 2019
The UK government is following in the footsteps of Wales, who announced they would be scrapping section 21 orders on Saturday, and Scotland where renter regulations were revamped in 2017.
The changes made tenancies more open-ended unless a landlord uses one of 18 reasons as grounds for eviction.