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  • In the Spotlight

    Government announce dilution of Section 21


    • New deal for renters to end unfair evictions – preventing private landlords from evicting tenants at short notice and without good reason;
    • Step-change to create open-ended tenancies for all private renters – bringing greater peace of mind to millions of tenants in the private rented sector;
    • Landlords to have more effective means of getting their property back when they genuinely need to do so.

    Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason, in the biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has announced (Monday 15 April).

    As part of a complete overhaul of the sector, the government has outlined plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions – so called ‘no-fault’ evictions.  This will bring an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract has come to an end.

    This will effectively create open-ended tenancies, bringing greater peace of mind to millions of families who live in rented accommodation. Many tenants live with the worry of being evicted at short notice or continue to live in poor accommodation for fear they will be asked to leave if they complain about problems with their home.

    It will give them the reassurance that they will not be suddenly turfed out of their home and reduces the risk of being faced with having nowhere else to go. And evidence shows that the end of tenancies through the Section 21 process is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.

    The private rented sector has grown rapidly over recent years, with more than four million people now living in privately rented accommodation – the vast majority of whom are responsible tenants who pay their rent on time and take good care of the property.  Yet the housing market has not kept pace with the changes in society and leaves many tenants feeling insecure.

    The proposed measures will provide greater certainty for tenants and make the housing market fit for the 21st century, whilst creating a more secure rental market for landlords in which to remain and invest.

    Prime Minister Theresa May 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.”

    The 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.”

    The vast majority of landlords are responsible property owners who provide quality homes and services for their tenants.

    Under the proposals, landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end  a marked step-change from the current rules which allows landlords to evict tenants at any time after the fixed-term contract has come to an end, and without specifying a reason.

    And to ensure responsible landlords have confidence they will be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reason to do so, 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 – meaning landlords have the security of knowing disputes will be resolved quickly.

    Ministers will also work with other types of housing providers outside of the private rented sector who use these powers and use the consultation to make sure the new system works effectively.

    Today’s announcement is the start of a process of engaging with landlords and tenants to amend these grounds in order to make the process work better for everyone.

    The news comes just weeks before the Tenant Fees Act takes effect on 1 June, which will save tenants across England at least £240 million a year – up to £70 per household – by banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits at five weeks’ rent.

    The new deal for renters is part of a wider package of government reforms aimed at rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, better quality and more affordable private rental market.

    Industry reactions:

    David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association said:

    “Whilst the RLA recognises the pressure being placed on Government for change, there are serious dangers of getting such reforms wrong.

    “With the demand for private rented homes continuing to increase, we need the majority of good landlords to have confidence to invest in new homes. This means ensuring they can swiftly repossess properties for legitimate reasons such as rent arrears, tenant anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell them. This needs to happen before any moves are made to end Section 21.

    “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. We call on the government to act with caution.”

    Government data shows that on average tenants live in their rental properties for over four years and that in 90 per cent of cases tenancies are ended by the tenant rather than the landlord.

    The Residential Landlords Association is warning that at a time when the demand for rental homes is outstripping supply, especially among vulnerable tenants, the Government risks exacerbating the problem if it does not ensure that landlords have complete confidence that they can repossess properties swiftly for legitimate reasons. These include tenant rent arrears, tenants committing anti-social behaviour and landlords wanting to sell their properties.

    With the Government’s own data showing that it takes over five months from a private landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening, the RLA argues that it is vital that a reformed and improved court system is able to bed in and the grounds to repossess properties are properly improved before making changes to Section 21. This would follow the lead set in Scotland.

    Research by Manchester Metropolitan University for the RLA has found that in a large majority of cases where tenants are asked to leave their properties under Section 21 notices there is a clear reason. Half of the notices are used where tenants have rent arrears, are committing anti-social behaviour or damage to the property. Other common reasons include the landlord needing to take back possession of a property for sale or refurbishment.  The report’s authors argue that this “raises questions” about whether the use of Section 21 notices can properly be described as ‘no fault’ evictions, as some have called them.

    The RLA will shortly be consulting the landlord community to establish what measures would be needed to ensure they have confidence in the system before efforts are made to end Section 21 repossessions. 

    Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action:

    Luke Murphy, associate director for energy, climate, housing and infrastructure at IPPR:

    "This is a welcome announcement because the current regulation is unfit for purpose. The millions of families that live in the private rented sector deserve to have a decent, affordable and secure home.

    "IPPR has long called for the abolition of no-fault eviction and our recent report called for the creation of 'open-ended' tenancies which the government is now proposing.

    "It's important that the government gets the detail right. Under these new tenancies, annual rent increases should be capped and landlords should be prevented from evicting families for the first three years if the only reason is to sell the property.

    "As part of any legislation it brings forward, the government should also introduce a property MOT and establish a national landlord register to increase quality, end the freeze of local housing allowance to help renters on the lowest incomes, and establish a specialist housing court to give tenants and landlords confidence in the eviction process."

    Kate Faulkner, Property Commentator:

    Co-founder of ideal flatmate, Tom Gatzen, commented:

    “Today’s news will bring a greater degree of security and stability to thousands of tenants across the nation and will ensure that any termination of a rental agreement is done fairly and with enough forewarning to enable alternative arrangements to be made.

    As a nation, we rely so heavily upon the rental sector and as this need evolves so must the way we govern it. Ultimately we want to achieve a harmonious space that not only remains profitable for UK landlords but enables tenants to secure a property quickly and cost-effectively.

    Of course, for those that don’t abide by the rules there must be consequences and while today’s news will help rebalance the landlord-tenant scales, it’s important that this doesn’t swing too far the other way.”

    It will also be interesting to hear how lenders react to this announcement, as one of the key drivers behind the growth of BTL finance was lenders' ability to quickly gain possession of a property in the event of a default.

    David Smith of the RLA will be talking about Section 21 dilution on the BBC Radio 5 Live breakfast show just after 8am today.

    Please share your reactions to this news and how if it will affect your view of being a landlord.

    Note:  Over the weekend, the First Minister of Wales announced end of Section 21 

    The Guardian is reporting it as a "tenant rights" victory:

    Up-dates to this news:

    End of Section 21 - "butterfly" effect

    The end of Section 21 - insider insights

    Landlords urged to shape future of PRS

    End of Section 21 makes BTL "credit negative"


    "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"

    Most people use section 21 to evict because the other methods for evicting none paying tenants aren't suitable. This is why I expect they have mentioned about expediting the court process in the event of none paying tenants.

    If this part is true then we have little to worry about. Id like to see more information about how they will 'expedite the court process' for non paying tenants. I don't believe they will to be honest however and believe many landlords are going to get royally screwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwed.

    How are they going to expedite the process? That is the real question


    Exactly Jacko. They're hardly going to prioritize eviction hearings, are they?


    Agreed, it's just an easily said (but hard to do) solution to why LL's have been using S21.

    A few months after it's been dragged through, we'll be reminded we already have S8...


    So much for working in collaboration with the sector - we've just got ****** with no consultation.

    NLA and RLA need to tie this up in the courts for years with judicial reviews at every possible stage.


    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.

    Any news when this is due to be implemented? I have some tenants who I will need to evict shortly


    Sounds like an attempt at a vote winning PR stunt. If we’re able to evict for example when a tenant is in arrears or we want to sell using something equivalent to the accelerated procedure then it’s no big deal.

    Of course the devils in the detail...


    The review is very much due now that the PRS has got so large

    So many pay their rent on time citizens on 2 months notice is disproportionally unfair on them

    Its also unfair on the councils when they get mass Sec 21`s issued by big LL`s like  Fergus Wilson

    They just haven`t got the capacity to deal effectively with the homeless that knock on their doors

    It must be horrible to have been settled as a family for 5 or 10 years and receive without warning a sec 21

    But likewise its horrible to feel trapped in the PRS where Sec 24 means you cant pay your mortgage

    If repossession looms because of tax increases then  LL,  tenant and the council suffer in unison

    S24 =   S21 = B&B

    We deal with a people industry so we nor the tenants nor the gov should ride roughshod over each other

    The PRS has got a great deal of power if it was in a position  to act collectively

    But the nature of our make up is we are  in truth a very unconnected  group of individuals

    If we worked in a traditional factory our voice of 2 million would be very strong in shaping policy

    Our union would be influential and we could strike and work to rule etc to ensure our needs are met

    We could also negotiate effectively .

    Sec 24 was a wake up call which demonstrated how weak our hand is in reality

    Sec 21 though demonstrates how strong our hand is in certain respects

    So set up a Housing Court which works for all . My 4 initial  asks are

    1) Make S24 non retrospective so 1000`s of S21 are not even needed

    2) Make losing the Sec 21 power  non retrospective so 1000`s of S21`s are not issued today

    3) Make the LHA to UC option work so 1000`s of S21 `s are not required 

    4) If I want to sell the gov should step in to buy with tenant in situ at  a fair market rate 


    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    That’s what you would like, what do you think you will actually get?


    Interesting question

    1) was hoping for reversal to be within 3 years of it kicking in  like the Irish equivalent which didnt work either . But with Brexit it maybe 2021/2 now as they are very busy and it also depends who gets in gov next time and who the leader is . If the homeless charities actually start to value us then we can work together against Gov but that will need a political agenda change in their top brass

    2) yes hope for some transitional arrangement like s24 but if not LL`s will use whatever recourse  they have to thrive and survive  including just selling and making more and more people homeless . If they stop me selling as well  but still throttle me with S24 then legal challenges with be made and win the day i believe . If the landscape changes too much and breaking point is hit ( like the environmentalist are doing at the moment)  formerly peaceful people are moved to take initially peaceful but direct action. If that fails then you get more and more unrest with stuff like the poll tax riots and the miners strike which no one wants or needs really .

    3) They will make it work in time I think but not before much more pain has been caused and many LL`s are lost

    4) This i believe will happen and is starting to happen according to my sources . This is good news as it may well solve many of the built up tensions and issues  with 1) 2) and 3) above in one clean sweep .

    The result will be a much leaner, fitter , better  regulated and respected  PRS

    Tiger Woods turned it around . The PRS is next on the list


    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    1) I don’t think S24 will be made non retrospective, possibility the additional stamp duty will be tweaked as I think that would be less expensive for the government and would also encourage investors with cash available to come back into the market.

    2) I think there is a possibility that it will only apply to new tenancies.

    3) I think they will continue to invest to get this right, the principle of UC is supported but it’s introduction has been a mess.

    4) This is the interesting one, yes there does appear to be a movement towards buying up properties, both new and landlords’ properties and I expect it to continue, I also think that housing associations could be given large chunks of money to buy up entire new build developments with these being split between social housing, affordable rents and market rents.