Sadiq Khan’s vision for a post-Section 21 world

Sadiq Khan’s vision for a post-Section 21 world

In a hopeful day for London’s renters, the Mayor has shared his vision for private renting.

For too long, renters in the capital and across the country have been denied the security they need in the place they call home. With insecure tenancies and spiralling costs, people who rent are at the mercy of their landlord. Too often they are unable to put down roots in the place they live.

But now Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s London Blueprint lays out what changes are needed to make the private rented sector fit for purpose.

Theresa May has already committed to abolishing no-fault evictions, and she confirmed last month that a consultation will soon be released detailing the new open-ended tenancies. Now Sadiq’s proposals show the government that her plans really can become a reality.

It’s important to note that the Mayor does not have the legislative power to implement his proposals. But the proposals in the London Model of tenancy reform show central government how renting can be changed for the better.

What’s in it?

The London Model is built on three pillars: open-ended tenancies, ending no-fault eviction and ensuring that landlords can still regain possession. Supporting those pillars are all the things the Mayor wants to see figured out before Section 21 is scrapped: grounds for possession, exemptions, notice periods, and several other points.

Some of the key recommendations are:

  • tenants would be entitled to four months’ notice when their landlord wants to evict and the tenant has done nothing wrong
  • landlords would have to pay compensation when they evicted tenants because they wanted to sell or move in
  • new grounds for possession so that landlords can regain possession when they need it

What we like

Sadiq’s proposals would benefit lots of hard-pressed renters. We welcome his proposed change to the possession process, where a judge should have discretion in awarding possession to the landlord if someone is in arrears because of benefit problems. This is a positive change; right now, too many people are being penalised for faults in the welfare system that they cannot control.

Alongside this, enhanced tenancy sustainment and access to welfare advice would mean that people at risk of homelessness because of benefit problems would be able to resolve them swiftly and efficiently.

We also like the idea of landlords compensating tenants when the landlord evicts because they want to sell or move back in. This could really help families who are unexpectedly asked to move and have to stump up cash to find a new privately rented home. Moving is expensive; even with tenant fees banned, things like moving vehicles and paying for rent in advance can feel like an insurmountable hurdle for lots of people.

The GLA also calls for court reform. We’re pleased to see the Mayor call for changes to the justice system that we’ve previously asked for, including expanded legal aid and holistic services in the courthouse.  

What we need to know more about

While we want a new tenancy system that works for both landlords and tenants alike, we want to make sure that landlords can’t exploit any of the new grounds for possession.

Ultimately, we want a system where a judge can decide whether it’s reasonable for someone to lose their home. Mandatory grounds often take the choice out of judges’ hands, forcing them to grant possession where it might actually not be deemed reasonable. The London Model proposes several mandatory grounds, including the landlord wanting to sell and the landlord’s family moving in. While we support the introduction of those new grounds, we want them to be discretionary.

Alongside the London Model, the Mayor has published his bold proposals for rent controls – you can read our take on his proposals for rent controls here.

The London Model is an exciting window into what a post-Section 21 world will look like once government passes legislation. We look forward to working with the Mayor to ensure that the private renting market is fit for purpose for tenants and landlords alike.