The Government has announced that it is to ban ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions ending one of the key tools that letting agents and landlords use to end tenancies. James Brokenshire (below) has called the plans the ‘biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation’. “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,” he said. And in a rare departure from Brexit preparations, PM Theresa May has also taken time to back the plans, saying the shake-up will protect tenants from “unethical behaviour” and give them the “long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve”. The announcement has the support of lender Nationwide whose Director of Home Propositions Paul Wooton says: “Nationwide has been calling on Government for some time to introduce indefinite tenancies and we welcome their commitment on this issue. Tenants who are paying rent and not breaching tenancy agreements should be able to stay in their home unless the landlord has legitimate reasons for ending the tenancy.” But the planned abolition of Section 21 has not gone down well among letting agents. “Today’s news could be devastating for the private rented sector and landlords operating within it,” says David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark (pictured, right). “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. “Although in the majority of cases there is no need for Section 21 to be used, there are times when a landlord has no choice but to take action and evict tenants from a property.”
Landlords are equally worried, including the Residential Landlords Association, whose Policy Director David Smith believes 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,” he says. “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.” No-fault evictions have already been banned in Scotland and housing charity Shelter is currently running a campaign to persuade its government to introduce similar legislation in Wales.
Over the weekend, the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said at the Welsh Labour Conference that, "we will abolish unfair letting agents fees in the private rented sector and we will end the demeaning and degrading practice of no-fault evictions for those people who live in the private rented sector here in Wales."