Shelter has stepped up its campaign to ensure Section 21 evictions are abolished within the looming Renters’ Reform Bill, details of which are expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech.
The organisation has claimed that a private renter has been handed a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice every seven minutes in England since 2019 when the measure was first mooted, or some 230,000 people.
It also claims that landlords ‘kick out’ tenants using this kind of possession route ‘on a whim’.
Based on new research on Shelter’s behalf by YouGov among 1,029 tenants within the PRS, Shelter says tenants are having to move too often – 25% of respondents had lived in three homes since 2017 – pointing out that losing a private tenancy is the second most common reason why people become homeless.
The organisation wants the government to honour its pledge to deliver a Renters’ Reform Bill this year to make private renting fairer and safer for all including banning Section 21 evictions.
But Shelter’s campaign is selective in its messaging. For example, official data shows that the use of Section 21 notices has been in decline for several years, even though this kind of possession route is often the only sensible route for a landlord to take when a tenant stops paying the rent or a property needs to be sold.
And access to a relatively affordable and quick repossession process has been, since Section 21 was introduced in 1988, one of the key reasons why so many landlords have felt secure enough to spend billions of their own pounds growing the PRS.
By Shelter’s own admission, renters have few other places to turn to – Built to Rent remains in its infancy and the social and affordable rented sectors remain hopelessly under-funded.
Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, says: “Shelter’s figures from this campaign show that 2% of the people it canvassed had been served an S21 notice, which feels about right given the period covered includes the pandemic and the eviction ban that it ushered in.
“Approximately 35% of our instructions are landlords seeking to use an S21 eviction, often because they want to leave the sector to cash-in on rising house prices or because they are disillusioned by the wave of extra taxes and regulation that has hit them in recent years.
Read more about Section 21 notices being abolished.
“There is no such thing as a ‘no fault’ eviction – landlords always have a reason to evict a tenant and a big factor is anti-social behaviour, but nevertheless it’s clear the government intends to ban them, so a workable system to enable landlords to evict badly-behaved tenants or if they want to sell their property or move back in, so the section 8 grounds need to be updated, with more mandatory grounds, with also landlords having faith in the court systems.”
“Shelter needs to stop its campaign of scaremongering. The vast majority of landlords do not spend their time plotting ways to get rid of their tenants for no reason,” says Ben Beadle, (pictured) Chief Executive of the NRLA.
“Official data shows that fewer than 10 per cent of tenants who move do so because they are asked to by their landlord or letting agent. Likewise, the number of cases coming to court as a result of Section 21 notices has been falling since 2015.
“The Government has committed to abolishing Section 21 possessions, but this has got to be replaced by a system that is both fair and workable for both tenants and landlords. Simply getting rid of Section 21 on its own would, for example, make it all but impossible to take action against anti-social tenants who blight the lives of neighbours and fellow tenants.
“The NRLA has published its detailed plans for a new system that strikes the right balance. We urge Shelter to work constructively with us on these.”