The government has announced a proposed ban on the highly controversial Section 21 as part of a series of legislation changes for Private Rented Sector (PRS). However, many believe that abolishing Section 21 can pose as a threat to both tenants and landlords.
The Section 21 notice was introduced in 1989 and it allowed landlords to evict tenants once their fixed-term tenancy agreement period has ended without having to give a reason. This has caused controversy for landlords and tenants alike, as many believe this has led to the percentage of homelessness and poor housing in the country increasing. Many tenants are reluctant to complain to their landlords through fear of being evicted.
The reason for introducing a ban on Section 21 notices was to protect tenants from being unfairly evicted. According to data from Citizen’s Advice, 46% of tenants who made a formal complaint about their landlord to their local authority were given eviction notices within six months. Since Boris Johnson took office in July, the housing charity Shelter has urged the new prime minister to go ahead with the abolishment that was proposed by his predecessor.
However, there are several critics of the proposed ban on Section 21. According to Paul Shamplina, founder of the housing law and eviction specialists Landlord Action, abolishing Section 21 will pose a a huge threat to landlords.
He said: “here is no such thing as a ‘no-fault’ eviction under Section 21 – There is always a reason why a landlord wants possession. According to the survey we carried out on LandlordZone, 58% of the time it is down to rent arrears and just 0.5% are because the tenant has asked for repairs to be carried out – known as ‘Retaliation Eviction’.”
Shamplina also pointed out that banning Section 21 will only result in an increase of Section 8 notices – the alternative to a Section 21 notice where a tenant can only be evicted for breaching the terms of the tenancy, for example rent arrears or anti-social behaviour – which will in turn, lengthen the eviction court process.
There are also concerns that banning Section 21 will also put more strain on the already limited supply of rental homes in the country, putting vulnerable tenants at the most risk. According to a survey by the Residential Landlord Association (RLA), 84% of respondents said that they would be more selective in choosing tenants, opting for those on higher incomes, and 45% said that they would consider selling their properties should the ban on Section 21 go ahead.
The purpose of these reforms is to ensure that the system is fair for both tenants and landlords, which is why it’s important for landlords to have their say on the matter. The majority of landlords wants to have a peaceful relationship with their tenants and eviction is usually a worst-case scenario for both parties.
As Paul Shamplina concluded: “From sitting in various meetings with trade bodies and landlord associations, the industry is coming together and has one clear message to the government: ‘Do not ban Section 21 until we have a clear understanding that the Court System or Housing Courts have sufficient investment to cope with the extra hearings, judges, administration and portals. We need better education tools for tenants and an overhaul of the bailiff system so that landlords are confident they can gain possession if required.”