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15/04/2019

Brokenshire tackles unfair rental evictions

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock-807295382

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has set out plans to prevent private landlords from evicting tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason.

The government said it will consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions – or ‘no-fault’ evictions. The legislation would stop private landlords kicking out tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract has come to an end.

Tenacies will instead be “open-ended” and provide renters with peace of mind about their home. Many, the government explained, are concerned that they will be asked to leave if they complain about problems with the property.

With four million now living in private rented accommodation, the measures aim to provide “greater certainty” for tenants and make the housing market “fit for the 21st century”, while simultaneously ensuring that the rental market is more secure for landlords.

Landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason specified in law for bring tenancies to an end, while an amendment to section 8 will allow property owners to regain their homes if they want sell or move into them. Court processes will be expedited so landlords can “swiftly and smoothly” regain their property in the rare event of tenants not paying their rent or damaging the property.

The government also wants to work with other types of housing providers who use these powers.

Brokenshire said: “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. And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so.”


Reaction:

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the British Property Federation, commented: “The build-to-rent sector has been at the forefront of offering longer tenancies. The principle of people feeling stable in their own homes is an important one and retaining residents is fundamental to the sector’s success. The government’s proposal, however, is a radical step that will need a lot of careful thought, and support when it is implemented.

“The detail in the grounds for possession will be important to get right, and whilst we recognise the need to prevent unfair evictions, professional landlords must not be prevented from ensuring that rent is paid, repairs can be made and antisocial behaviour is challenged.

“It is crucial not to destabilise investment in the build-to-rent sector, to ensure new rental homes remain high quality and communities are well managed, and that the sector continues to help meet housing need. The student accommodation sector will also require exceptions to ensure final-year students vacate properties for incoming first-year students.”

Jean-Marc Vandevivere, CEO at PLATFORM, welcomed the proposals, saying they are a sign that the government is “beginning to take the concerns of renters seriously, and not see them as second-class voters when compared to homeowners or first-time buyers”.

“However, it is worth noting the build-to-rent sector already offers the security and peace of mind that sadly isn’t often available in the traditional private rented sector. Professional landlords like PLATFORM_ and others already offer long-term yet flexible leases, with transparent rent increases. Being backed by institutional investors such as pension funds or insurers seeking long-term steady income streams, build-to-rent firms also have a commercial imperative to have our residents stay with us as long as possible to minimise costly voids.”

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “Government plans to abolish no-fault evictions represent an outstanding victory for England’s 11 million private renters. This change will slam the brakes on unstable short-term tenancies and give tenants everywhere a massive boost in security, for which the government will deserve great credit.

“One in four families now privately rent their home, as do hundreds of thousands of older people. And yet, we frequently hear from people with contracts shorter than your average gym membership, who live in constant fear of being thrown out at the drop of a hat. Ending section 21 evictions will transform these renters’ lives – giving them room to breathe and put down roots in a place they can finally call home.

“Getting this new legislation through Parliament is critical to people being able to stay in their rented home as long as they need, so we look forward to the government passing this law as quickly as possible.”


Image credit | iStock

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