Covid-19 highlights why the government must abolish Section 21

by 28/05/2020

I doubt whether there are many people in the world that haven’t been affected by Covid-19 in some way over the last few months.

The 8.6 million households that rent from a private landlord, council or housing association in the UK are no exception. Despite the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s recent announcement that the furlough scheme is being extended to October, according to the housing charity Shelter, nearly one in five private renters in England say they fear they could lose their job in the coming months. Shelter has also warned that problems accessing social security could mean renters will experience financial difficulties, even once the pandemic finishes.

To the government’s credit, it recognised many tenants could struggle during the crisis and took swift action by passing the Coronavirus Act at the end of March which means landlords have to give all renters three months’ notice if they want to end the tenancy. The court service followed this up by announcing all housing possession actions would be suspended for 90 days.

Whilst it’s great that tenants have some security, what happens after the 25th June when the court suspension comes to an end?

Whilst it could be extended, depending on where we find ourselves in a few weeks’ time, what I’d like to see is for the government to bring forward its plan to abolish Section 21, or no-fault, evictions once and for all.

If you’re not familiar with Section 21, in a nutshell it means that landlords do not need to prove a tenant has breached their terms before asking them to move out, allowing them to regain possession of the property without giving their tenant a legitimate reason why. By getting rid of it, landlords will now have to provide a concrete reason for evicting a tenant that’s already specified in law.

The government originally announced its intention to abolish Section 21 last April, but has, of yet, not provided a definitive date for its introduction. Whilst it’s understandable that it may have taken a backseat due to everything that’s been happening recently, with so many tenants facing uncertainty about the future, it’s absolutely essential that they feel safe and secure in their homes.

I understand the move will not go down well with those unscrupulous landlords who may invoke Section 21 to get rid of tenants on a whim. However, I believe that the vast majority of landlords have the best interests of responsible tenants at heart and will see the move for what is.

The key word here is responsible. I’m not saying that tenants who indulge in anti-social or destructive behaviour should be protected. What I am saying is that the vast majority of law-abiding, hard-working tenants should benefit from the security that abolishing Section 21 will bring.

As a responsible lender which is committed to a fair rental market, we support any move that looks after the rights of tenants. During these difficult times, long-term peace of mind is needed now more than ever.

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