Scrapping Section 21: a victory for every housing campaigner

Published: by James Austin

Section 21 eviction

15 April was a cause for big celebration. Renters won an important campaign which will change the way all private tenants are treated in our country. In case you missed it, the government announced plans to scrap Section 21, effectively fixing renting in the private sector by bringing an end to no-fault evictions. It’s a move that could finally give tenants the right to stay in their homes.

If made into law, this will improve renting for every one of the 11 million people living in privately rented homes in this country. It will finally let renters put down roots and make a home, and give them the confidence to ask their landlords for repairs their homes need. It will also tackle one of our country’s biggest causes of homelessness – eviction from privately rented homes.

But we must keep up the pressure to make sure this is turned into law. Theresa May’s announcement wouldn’t have happened without two decades of hard work from thousands of campaigners from pressure groups including Shelter. Together we can make this happen too.

Fighting for renters

Since our Safe and Secure report was published in 2005, we’ve been calling for longer tenancies. It was clear that something had to change after security for renters fell as deregulation kicked in.

Shelter joined the chorus of campaigners, charities and organisations calling for a change to no-fault evictions. Together we forced it up the political agenda and turned it from a fringe idea into something now accepted as a necessary fix to renting.

As part of the campaign, it was easy to draw on examples of renting in Europe, but in 2017, changes to Scottish law meant you only have to look north of the border for inspiration. Campaigners in Scotland had a massive victory at the end of the year when their government introduced a new type of open-ended tenancy.

Making your voice heard

In 2017, 35,000 campaigners took action and demanded five year tenancies. Many more then went on to email their MPs to share personal stories about renting. Together we made a lot of noise and thousands of new supporters got involved – all thanks to great videos like this, and a joint campaign with Mumsnet.

With a whole movement of campaigners speaking up for renters’ rights, it became impossible for the government to ignore us. We fought for the government’s ear together, and in 2018, during a consultation on three year tenancies, campaigners had the chance to put our point across.

Shelter supporters were chomping at the bit to take part and we definitely made an impact. Nearly 6,000 of the total 8,000 responses came from Shelter supporters, 3,600 of who were private renters themselves. 

While in our opinion, the consultation did not go far enough to guarantee renters a proper right to stay in their homes, the End Unfair Evictions coalition did a great job, keeping momentum up and continuing to push for change. Over 50,000 supporters signed their petition calling for an end to Section 21.

The beginning of the end

This win would’ve been impossible without the dedication and commitment from supporters like you. Tens of thousands of people have taken action, and without each and every small act, we just couldn’t have created the momentum necessary to push the government into announcing real change.

We must continue to take this forward. The finish line might be in sight, but we’re not there yet. Our next challenge is the government consultation on scrapping Section 21. Like with so many other political issues, we have to keep this at the top of the agenda. But we know that we can do it: when we come together, we’re a force to be reckoned with.

There’s a busy couple of years ahead, and there are still some important battles to be won, but if we are united on this issue, we will make such a positive difference to so many people’s lives.

Next time you take action and add your voice to the campaign, you can be sure that it’ll join a chorus of tens of thousands of other campaigners demanding an end to no-fault evictions.