Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes without good reason, the Government has announced.
As part of a complete overhaul of the sector, ministers have today outlined plans for a consultation 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 their fixed-term contracts come to an end.
It comes as figures show many tenants live in poor conditions or with the worry of being evicted without notice because they complained about problems with their home under what's become known as 'revenge evictions'.
Government evidence also shows that the end of tenancies through the Section 21 process is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.
In the UK, more than four million people now live in privately rented accommodation – and according to Royal London, at least 365,000 a year are newborn babies that need stability.
The vast majority of tenants are responsible, pay their rent on time and take good care of the property.
However, the housing market has not kept pace with the changes in society many tenants have been left feeling insecure.
The proposed measures, the Government said, will "make the housing market fit for the 21 century".
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."
Communities secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, added: "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.
"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.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Scrapping no-fault evictions is a groundbreaking shake-up of the private rented sector and will better protect the almost 5 million households who live in it.
“It means renters – including families – will be able to put down stable roots where they live and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for simply complaining.”
What is Section 21?
The vast majority of landlords are responsible property owners who provide safe, fit for living homes for their tenants.
However, there are some law breakers that are abusing the system.
Section 21 is a legal process landlords must follow if they want to evict their tenant – however under current rules, they don't have to provide a reason to kick the tenant out after their tenancy ends. In many cases seen by the Mirror, charities and the Government, renters – and entire families – have been evicted without reason. Many of these people had reported issues with their living conditions – such as poor health and safety and mould.
In the UK, councils have powers to protect people who complain from so-called revenge evictions – however research suggest these rights aren't being enforced.
According to charity Generation Rent, just one in every 20 private renters who complain about poor conditions in their home will qualify for protection from a revenge eviction.
It said authorities are failing to use powers they have to protect tenants, with Citizens Advice figures also showing tenants who receive a Section 21 "no-fault eviction" notice are five times more likely to have gone to their local authority and eight times more likely to have complained to a redress scheme .
Under the new rules, private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice without good reason.
To issue a Section 21 warning, they will need sufficient evidence and a good reason for it, too.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "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.
“Getting this new legislation through parliament is critical to people being able to stay in their rented home as long as they need, so we look forward to the government passing this law as quickly as possible.”
Dan Wilson Craw – Director of Generation Rent added: “Eleven million people in England have no idea where home will be in a year’s time, thanks to Section 21. The ability of landlords to evict without reason is disrupting educations, eroding our communities, and leaving tenants feeling powerless. The government has listened to renters and has made the right decision.”
However not everyone agrees.
Jeremy Leaf, former RICS residential chairman said no-fault evictions aren't a real problem.
"This announcement is perhaps more political than practical in that the government wants to be seen to be recognising the plight of possibly only a small number of millennials, in particular, who are frustrated by evictions at short notice and with little justification," Leaf said.
"On the ground, we don’t find this happens frequently at all so hope that a thorough evidence-based consultation will flush out the extent of the problem. This will ensure that landlords do not desert the sector unnecessarily; if they did, it would only result in further upward pressure on rents and affordability issues."
A crackdown on tenants, too
Under the new rules, court processes will also be expedited so landlords can quickly regain their property where tenants have misbehaived.
This includes where tenants have fallen into rent arrears or damaged the property.
What else is changing?
Today’s announcement comes just weeks before the Tenant Fees Act is set to take effect , which, the Government estimates, will save tenants across England at least £240 million a year – up to £70 per household. It will ban unfair letting fees and cap tenancy deposits at five weeks’ rent.
There are also talks to introduce new three year tenancies to give renters more security and protect those who wish to stay put.
The extended minimum term would replace current six to 12 month leases – which around 81% of renters are currently signed up to.
It would, according to MPs, give tenants a more steady place to call home, while also offering landlords more financial security.
Figures show renters stay in a home, on average, for four years, however eight in 10 contracts are for a minimum of six or 12 months.
New rules in March also introduced tougher rights for renters through the Housing Act – which gives tenants more powers to sue landlords who mistreat them .
This includes issues with damp, mould and other problems in your home.
On top of that, you're now entitled to compensation as well as forcing them to get the work done – even if they refuse.
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, said: “This new legislation will give renters greater protection against criminal operators, and means they will now be able to take direct legal action if their agent or landlord does not comply.”
Before private renters had to rely on local authorities to look into poor conditions, while social tenants don't have an effective way to hold their council to account.
Tenants' rights explained
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