Government to scrap no-fault evictions

Michael Lloyd

April 15, 2019

The government will consult on legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions (no-fault evictions) to prevent private landlords from removing tenants at short notice.

Currently after a fixed-term contract ends landlords can give tenants eight weeks’ notice and evict renters without a reason.

Housing and communities secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: “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.

“We are making the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation. We are creating homes, opportunities and thriving communities, where people can come together and put down roots, bound by a strong sense of belonging.

“Everyone has a right to the opportunities they need to build a better life. For many, this means having the security and stability to make a place truly feel like home without the fear of being evicted at a moments’ notice. We are building a fairer housing market that truly works for everyone.”

Under the proposals, landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end.

And ministers will amend the Section 8 eviction process, so property owners are able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.

Court processes will also be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property in the rare event of tenants falling into rent arrears or damaging the property.

Paul Wootton, Nationwide’s director of home propositions, added: “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.

“Nationwide has been calling on government for some time to introduce indefinite tenancies and we welcome their commitment on this issue.

“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.

“Our own research amongst tenants showed half had already lived in their current home for three or more years showing how unsuitable tenancies with fixed terms of six or 12 months are for those living in the sector.

“This is particularly important for people looking to put down long term roots in an area and those who want the stability home owners enjoy like knowing their children can keep attending the same school.

“It will be important to ensure more efficient court processes are put in place to help support a reformed eviction process. Where there are problems with a tenancy – for example non-payment of rent, damage to the property and antisocial behaviour – landlords should be able to evict tenants quickly and current processes take too long or are insufficient.”

The government’s decision to ban no-fault evictions has been welcomed by many. It follows a campaign by a coalition of renter unions and housing campaigns including Generation Rent, ACORN, London Renters Union, Tenants Union UK and the New Economics Foundation.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, said: “Eleven million people in England have no idea where home will be in a year’s time, thanks to Section 21.

“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.”

However, David Cox, chief executive, ARLA Propertymark, added: “Today’s news could be devastating for the private rented sector and landlords operating within it.

“The effects of the tenant fees ban have not yet been felt, and now the government is introducing more new legislation which could deter landlords from operating in the market.

“Although in the majority of cases there is no need for Section 21 to be used, there are times when a landlord has no choice but to take action and evict tenants from a property.

“Until we have greater clarity on the changes planned for Section 8, today’s news will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing in buy-to-let properties. This comes at a time when demand is dramatically outpacing supply and rent costs are rising.”

ARLA Propertymark will be engaging with the government to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes, and all changes are based on evidence, so landlords have the ability to regain their properties if needed.

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