This week, the government announced plans to abolish Section 21 evictions, meaning that private renters can no longer be evicted unless their landlord has a legitimate reason to do so. This is a historic change which will offer Britain’s 11 million private renters the security they have too long been denied.
Shelter has long campaigned for greater security for those living in the private rented sector, from families to older people. And this is an outstanding victory for those who have been unable to put down roots and make the place they rent a home.
If the proposals go ahead, renters in England could enjoy the same rights as their Scottish counterparts, who have benefitted from indefinite tenancies since December 2017.
For the one in four families living in the private rented sector, there is the constant fear of having to move to a new house in the middle of the school year, having to move further away from work, and at worst, being unable to find a new place to call home. With the loss of a private tenancy being the leading cause of homelessness, this fear isn’t unfounded. The government has understood that this is no way for people to live.
These changes will allow us to better support clients and prevent homelessness. Here are some ways that our clients will benefit.
They know they will be secure
Everyday, we help people to secure private rented properties to move into through our Information Resource Centre. Frozen housing benefit for private renters and sky-high rents make this a difficult task, and it’s all the more frustrating to know that when someone finally moves in somewhere, they may be asked to leave after just six months – even if they’ve been a model tenant.
This change would mean that no one can be asked to leave without a good reason. It means that when we help someone find a property, they know they will be able to stay indefinitely.
We can challenge unfair decisions
Our services often see tenants who have been served with a Section 21 notice after asking for repairs to be carried out in their properly. Even though we know this is unfair, there’s currently nothing we can do to stop it.
If Section 21 is abolished, we will be able to help the people using our services to access a Shelter solicitor, so that they can defend themselves in court and show to the judge that they are being wrongly evicted.
We have a better chance of preventing homelessness
Government legislation, such as the Homelessness Reduction Act, aims to prevent homelessness, and everyday we work to stop people from losing their homes. However, with no-fault evictions being the leading cause of homelessness, change was needed to stop the flow of people being told to leave their homes. Giving more renters greater security will also allow us the capacity to work with people where they may otherwise be at risk of eviction.
Although abolishing Section 21 evictions will not solve homelessness, it will help us keep people in their homes.
But the journey does not end here. Shelter looks forward to working with the government to ensure that these proposals become legislation. While work must continue to ensure that homes are affordable and accessible, Monday’s announcement marks the biggest commitment in a generation to make private renting fit for purpose.