No fault evictions will be scrapped the government announced this week, in a move greeted as a huge step forward by campaigners in Southwark.
On Monday, April 15, the government’s communities secretary, James Brockenshire, announced section 21, which allowed landlords to service their tenants notice with as little as eight weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract comes to an end, would be outlawed as part of a ‘complete overhaul’ of the housing sector.
“By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves – not have it made for them,” he said.
“And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so. We are making the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation.”
As the News has reported, Southwark Council backed the campaign to ditch section 21, alongside a coalition of charities and organisations including Generation Rent, Crisis, and Centrepoint, with the movement gathering cross-party support.
At a council assembly meeting last year, a motion in favour of a ban put forward by Faraday councillor Jack Buck and the cabinet’s housing chief, Stephanie Cryan, was backed by members who were delighted with yesterday’s announcement.
Reacting to the announcement, Cllr Buck told the News: “After prolonged pressure it looks like the government have cracked on no-fault evictions.
“If they go ahead with these changed it will have a real impact for renters, giving more security and more power to demand better conditions.
“However, still a great deal of changes are necessary to make renting an equitable option for ordinary people and not a cash trap designed to make property a valuable asset for the rich.
“We need to push for implementation of rent controls capped to local incomes as well as support for strong renters’ unions.
“This is a step in the right direction, there is a long way still to go.”
According to Southwark Council, a staggering third of all homelessness cases in the borough are caused by section 21 evictions, at a huge cost to the council, which has been left grappling with an increasing number of people in desperate need of temporary accommodation.
In Southwark, the issue is particularly severe amid chronic housing shortages – 20,000 people are on the council home waiting list – and spiralling private sector rents.
Cllr Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit said: “Southwark’s private tenants deserve a safe and secure place to call home and the end of no fault evictions is long overdue.
“It’s not fair that landlords can have incredible power over tenants.
“They can evict without a reason leaving residents insecure in their homes, disturbing educations and eroding communities.
“Thirty percent per cent of homelessness cases in Southwark are as a result of section 21 evictions, underlying one of the many challenges individuals and families face in a broken housing market.
“Stable tenancies allow people to find employment, they allow children to stay at their local school and they allow people to access support services and networks.
“Getting rid of section 21 notices must be just the start of how we continue to protect residents from unscrupulous landlords.
“In Southwark we are currently consulting on our Gold Standard for Rental Properties that sets out good practices for landlords that extends beyond legal requirements.
“And of course the real challenge remains making sure we have much more social and affordable housing and a system of housing benefit that means residents from all backgrounds and communities can still afford to call Southwark home.”
Generation Rent, which campaigned for years for a ban, said the announcement was ‘fantastic news’, but was ‘just the start’.
“We’ve got to make sure that the detail of this policy is right for renters, and we’ll be working with government and feeding into their forthcoming consultation on this,” a spokesperson for the group said.
We won! Government have announced they will #endsection21. We are so proud to have led the coalition with @LDNRentersUnion @ACORN_tweets @tenantsunionuk @NEF. Sign up to join the next campaign: https://t.co/PXO1WjUw2D pic.twitter.com/ccnqnfffry
— Generation Rent (@genrentuk) April 15, 2019