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Government moves to abolish Section 21 evictions

Monday 15 April 2019

Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice without good reason under new government plans.

The government will consult on abolishing section 21 notices in England, which allow landlords to evict renters without a reason at the end of their fixed-term tenancy.

David Smith, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association, said changes would lead to more cautious investment in buy-to-let properties from landlords and prospective lenders.

He said: “For all the talk of greater security for tenants, that will be nothing if the homes to rent are not there in the first place."

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced similar plans for Wales, while in Scotland new rules requiring landlords to give a reason for ending tenancies were introduced in 2017.

There are no plans in Northern Ireland to end no-fault evictions where a fixed-term tenancy has come to an end.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that evidence showed so-called Section 21 evictions were one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.

He said the changes would offer more "stability" to the growing number of families renting and mean people would not be afraid to make a complaint "because they may be concerned through a no-fault eviction that they may be thrown out".

Mr Brokenshire also said the plans would offer "speedy redress" to landlords seeking to regain possession of their property for legitimate reasons, such as to sell it or to move into it themselves.

Under the government's new plans, landlords would have to provide a "concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law" in order to bring tenancies to an end.

Theresa May said the major shake-up will protect responsible tenants from "unethical behaviour" and give them the "long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve".

The prime minister also said the government was acting to prevent "unfair evictions".

The National Landlords Association (NLA) said its members should be able to use a Section 8 possession notice to evict someone who has broken the terms of their tenancy - for example by not paying rent.

This sometimes involves landlords spending money taking action in court if the tenants refuse to leave.

But NLA chief executive Richard Lambert said many landlords were forced to use Section 21 as they have "no confidence" in the courts to deal with Section 8 applications "quickly and surely".

He said the proposed changes would create a new system of indefinite tenancies by the "back door", and the focus should be on improving the Section 8 and court process instead.

A Ministry of Housing spokesman said court processes would "also be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property" where such a move is justified.

Labour's shadow housing secretary John Healey said that any promise of help for renters is "good news" but added that "this latest pledge won't work if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking the rent".

The Labour party previously said it would scrap so-called Section 21 evictions, among a host of other reforms to the rental sector.
 

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