Contention and Delay: Section 21 Ban in Renters Reform Bill

The Renters Reform bill has advanced through the House of Commons, signalling a positive step in tackling rental sector issues.

The Renters Reform bill has now passed it’s third reading in the House of Commons, despite no solution in place for Section 21 no-fault evictions.

UK Houses along a canal at sunset
Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash

In February of this year, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, made a firm commitment to introduce a proposed ban on Section 21 notice evictions before the upcoming general election.

However, this week Ministers debating the legislation confirmed that the Government would be unable to enact any such ban until a comprehensive review of an already strained court system had taken place.

James Charters, Head of Housing Disrepair and Solicitor at FDM stated:

“It is no secret that private tenants in England have been calling for an end to Section 21 notices aka ‘no-fault evictions’ and a change has been on the cards for some time. In Scotland and Wales the rules are different already.

In Wales, provided you do not break a term of the contract, your landlord must give you at least 6 months’ notice to end the contract, often called a no fault’ notice (increased from 2 months’ notice). Private landlords cannot issue a no-fault notice until after 6 months of tenancy.

In Scotland, whilst there are some exceptions no fault evictions are in effect already banned and have been for some time.

The pros are that it would provide greater security for tenants during a cost-of-living crisis but on the flip side there is a concern the changes would strain the court system and damage the existing rental market. The Renters Reform Bill has been eagerly awaited for a while now and the changes for tenants are not just limited to Section 21 notices for private tenants. We will be following the progress of the proposed legislation closely.”

James Charters, Head of Housing Disrepair and Solicitor at FDM
Photo by Richard Hedrick on Unsplash

What is a Section 21 Notice?

A Section 21 notice provides landlords with a means to evict tenants on a no-fault basis once their fixed-term tenancy has expired. Whilst this helps to protect landlords from bad tenants, it does nothing to support tenants suffering from issues such as housing disrepair, who are often forced to live in unsafe conditions as simply raising an issue with their landlord could prompt eviction.

Statistics from the Ministry of Justice report a 49% increase in household evictions in 2023 compared to the previous year (9,457 up from 6,339).

In response, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities backed the Government’s commitment to abolishing section 21 no-fault evictions.

“Our commitment to scrap section 21 no-fault evictions as soon as possible is unchanged.

“We have always said we will give six months’ notice before ending section 21 for all new tenancies. In addition, we have committed to ensuring improvements in the courts service are rapidly implemented before extending this abolition to all existing tenancies.”

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