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Government announces plan to ban unfair tenant evictions

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15/04/2019
It said the proposal marks the biggest change to the rental sector 'in a generation' but one landlord group lambasted the move, predicting 'chaos in the courts'
Government announces plan to ban unfair tenant evictions

Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason, under plans announced by Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

The Government will 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 8 weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract has come to an end.

It was described by the Government as a ‘new deal for renters’ and the ‘biggest change to the rental sector in a generation’.

What will change?

Assuming the proposals become law, it 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, said the Government.

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.

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 8 weeks’ notice.”

Enough support for landlords?

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.

Th Government also pledged to expedite court processes, 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.

But landlord bodies criticised the move, which is the latest in a long line of government interventions that have made investing in the private rental sector more challenging.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) lambasted the proposal, with CEO Richard Lambert noting that “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.”

He warned: “If the Government introduces yet another piece of badly thought-out legislation, we guarantee there will be chaos.”

Tenant response

The announcement was welcomed by a raft of tenant and other housing groups.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing and homelessness charity Shelter, said: “Government plans to abolish no-fault evictions represent an outstanding victory for England’s 11 million private renters. This change will slam the brakes on unstable short-term tenancies and give tenants everywhere a massive boost in security, for which the government will deserve great credit.

“One in four families now privately rent their home, as do hundreds of thousands of older people. And yet, we frequently hear from people with contracts shorter than your average gym membership, who live in constant fear of being thrown out at the drop of a hat.

“Ending Section 21 evictions will transform these renters’ lives – giving them room to breathe and put down roots in a place they can finally call home.”

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