Honourable and personal residential letting experts

18Feb

Why is there a problem with Section 21?

At the end of December, the house of Commons Library published a history and description of the issues surrounding Section 21 and its abolishment. Something that was originally pledged in 2019.

As an independent body, the Library doesn’t have a political point to make, so although it is quite dry reading (all 48 pages), it does give you a feel for what might happen in the future.

Where are we with legislation?

The White Paper on rental sector reform is due in the spring, so we shall know more then. In the meantime, if you want to see the library report in full click here.

 

Here are the salient points about section 21 for you

What’s the problem with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988?

  • Section 21 enables private landlords to repossess their properties from assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs), without having to establish a fault on the tenant’s part. Hence, it is sometimes referred to as the ‘no-fault’ ground for eviction.
  • Because of this, private tenants, their representative bodies, and others working in the sector argue that the ability of landlords to terminate an AST at short notice, has a detrimental effect on tenants’ wellbeing.
  • Therefore, some tenants don’t want to push the need for repairs or question rent increases as they are frightened that they may be asked to leave.
  • This came from respondents to a 2018 consultation – which said…
…those renting from private landlords have been left feeling insecure by short fixed-term tenancies, unable to plan for the future or call where they live a home. This insecurity can have wide-ranging effects – from disrupting children’s education and the impact on mental health through to the cost of frequent moves undermining people’s ability to save for a deposit.

Next came Consultation on abolishing section 21 (2019)

and in April 2019 the then-Government announced: “Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason.”

  • This was followed by a consultation process which ran between July and October 2019. The consultation paper proposed the abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
  • In addition to abolishing section 21, the consultation paper proposed measures to strengthen and extend the Grounds for Possession. These are preceded by the service of a section 8 notice, particularly where the property is needed for the landlord’s or a family member’s use, and if the landlord wants to sell.
  • The Conservative manifesto and proposed Renters Reform Bill, which promised “a better deal for renters” which included “abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant.” There was also a commitment to strengthen landlords’ rights of possession.
  • The 2019 Queen’s Speech said a Renters’ Reform Bill would be introduced to “enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing “no-fault” evictions and introducing a lifetime deposit.”
  • The 2021 Queen’s Speech announced an intention to publish the Government response to the 2019 consultation exercise and provide details of a full reform package in a White Paper in autumn 2021. At the end of October 2021, the Government told stakeholders the White Paper would be delayed until 2022.
  • Various bodies, including the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee, called for the Bill to be fast-tracked to improve protection for tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s concern that tenants in financial difficulty who benefited from temporary restrictions on landlords’ ability to seek repossession, will face homelessness as restrictions are lifted.
  • On 3 March 2021 the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, said the Renters’ Reform Bill will be brought forward “once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed.”

Reactions to the proposed abolition of section 21

There is a clear divide in opinion between organisations advocating on behalf of tenants and those advocating on behalf of private landlords. Broadly, tenant organisations support the abolition of section 21 while landlord bodies oppose it.