Debate: With recent attention on Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenants Act, should it be scrapped?
Yes – Hannah Slater is policy and public affairs manager at Generation Rent.
Section 21 allows landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice and without giving them any reason.
It’s an outdated bit of law. Three decades on from its creation, private renters are often families with school-age children, older people who rely on their communities, and long-term sick and disabled people who need health service continuity. For them , an unwanted house move is physically, mentally and financially very difficult.
Section 21 also facilitates revenge evictions as landlords can kick out tenants who ask for repairs, and it’s a leading cause of homelessness. This level of housing insecurity is unacceptable and unnecessary – in most of Europe it’s not this way.
Scotland has open-ended tenancies, so tenants can stay as long as they want if they’re paying rent and treating the property well, but aren’t locked in. Landlords who need to sell or move back in can evict but must prove it. A similar model that removes Section 21 “no fault” evictions would bring private renting in England into the 21st century.
No – David Smith is policy director for the Residential Landlords Association.
When Section 21 was introduced, it actually made life easier for tenants – with landlords becoming less risk-averse when it came to who they rented to.
Landlords who needed the property back to sell could serve a Section 21 notice, while those whose tenants refused to pay rent or broke the terms of their agreement could use the grounds-based Section 8 to gain repossession.
However, that was 30 years ago. Since then, the Section 8 process has become lengthy, complex and expensive. As a result, Section 21 has become the default option for many landlords, even when the tenant is at fault.
The government is consulting on plans for a housing court, which could begin to address the issue, but until there are significant changes to the Section 8 process it is inconceivable that the government could consider abolishing Section 21. Landlords need to know that they can repossess for legitimate reasons, and Section 21 affords them that reassurance.