Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice without good reason under new plans set out by the government.
A consultation will take place on banning Section 21 notices in England, which allow landlords to evict renters without a reason after their fixed-term tenancy period ends, or the tenancy is ‘periodic’, meaning it doesn’t have a fixed end date.
Speaking about this latest announcement, Theresa May, the prime minister, said a ban on these notices would protect tenants from “unfair” and “unethical” practices.
The news of the consultation comes less than two months before landlords and letting agents will be banned from charging letting fees to tenants, from 1 June.
Everyone Has The Right ‘To Feel Secure In Their Home’
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire. Credit: Flickr/Number10Gov
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that evidence showed so-called Section 21 evictions were one of the biggest causes of family homelessness, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the changes mean people would be less afraid to make a complaint “because they may be concerned through a no-fault eviction that they may be thrown out”.
A survey of 2,001 private renters by Citizens Advice suggests that tenants who made a formal complaint had a 46% chance of being evicted within the next six months.
A lack of adequate housing impacts a range of rights, including the right to a private and family life, protected by Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.
This includes the protection of a person’s physical and psychological integrity, which is arguably compromised by the stress and anxiety of being unable to find suitable housing. It can also impact an individual’s right to health, and dignity.
The prime minister said: “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 eight weeks’ notice.
“This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”
Proposal Will ‘Transform Lives’
Section 21 evictions ‘one of the biggest causes of family homelessness’. Credit: Geograph/Stephen McKay
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.
If the proposals in England go ahead, landlords will need to give a concrete reason to evict a tenant, (reasons could include a tenant causing damage or being in arrears) and provide evidence of this.
They will, however, be able to use different rules if they want to sell or move into their property, such as Section 8 legislation. Landlords can currently only use this if their tenants have broken the terms of the tenancy, but this will be strengthened to allow landlords to regain the property if they want to move in or sell up.
Court processes to evict rule-breaking tenants will also be sped up under the new proposals, meaning landlords will be able to regain their properties more quickly if their tenants fall into rent arrears or cause damage.
Shelter, the charity, said the proposals would “transform lives”, with their chief executive Polly Neate adding that “government plans to abolish no-fault evictions represent an outstanding victory for England’s 11 million private renters.”
But Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, said that another piece of “badly thought-out legislation” would cause “chaos”.
He claims that landlords currently “have little choice but to use Section 21,” due to a lack of confidence “in the ability or the capacity of the courts to deal with possession claims quickly and surely,” regardless of the strength of the landlord’s case.