Landlords will soon no longer be able to evict tenants without reason or at short notice, the government has announced.
The planned removal of Section 21 will, the government says, stop landlords from removing tenants after at the end of a fixed-term contract.
It says that this will create open-ended tenancies, giving renters, according to Prime Minister Theresa May, “the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”
The government is set to begin a consultation on these plans soon, along with reform for Section 8, with the aim to provide landlords with the means to regain their property more quickly and smoothly than they are able to currently in the event that they wish to sell the property or move into it themselves.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire comments: “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.”
Nationwide director of home propositions Paul Wootton says: “[This] is an important step in creating a modern private rented sector.
“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.”
The move has been met with dismay in other quarters, however. Arla Propertymark chief executive David Cox says: “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.
“This comes at a time when demand is dramatically outpacing supply and rent costs are rising.”
National Landlords Association chief executive Richard Lambert adds: “Landlords currently have little choice but to use Section 21. They have no 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.
“England’s model of tenancy was always intended to operate in a sector where Section 21 exists. This change makes the fixed term meaningless, and so creates a new system of indefinite tenancies by the back door.
“The onus is on the government to get this right. It is entirely dependent on the government’s ability to re-balance the system through Section 8 and court process so that it works for landlords and tenants alike. The government should look to Scotland, where they reformed the court system before thinking about changing how tenancies work. If the government introduces yet another piece of badly thought-out legislation, we guarantee there will be chaos.”
The Residential Landlords Association policy director David Smith says: “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.”
Howsy founder and chief executive Calum Brannan reiterates this caution: “We have seen the impact caused… through previous knee jerk policy implementations against the BTL sector and the resulting reduction in rental stock actually entering the market as a result.
“While this latest move has been made with the best intentions, it is vital that the landlords themselves are also safeguarded so that we don’t further exacerbate this exodus of rental property providers. By removing their existing route to quickly evict genuinely poor tenants, we could well be doing so.”