This week’s Queen’s Speech has been heavily criticised for failing to ease cost of living concerns, and for letting down struggling families and vulnerable groups in our society. And fairly so. Progress has been made, however, on one crucial area of concern for millions of people – “no fault” evictions.
Their official name is Section 21 notices, and they allow landlords to ask tenants to vacate their property without any specific reason with only two months of warning. They came into the spotlight during the pandemic, when the courts blocked them for six months. It would have been a great time to scrap them back then, but it didn’t happen, leaving tenants in uncertain conditions for two more years.
Now renters will be finally protected by law from this unfair practice. According to the charity Shelter, a private renter is handed a “no fault” eviction notice every seven minutes in England. The Renters Reform Bill, unveiled on Tuesday, will finally provide the security tenants have been calling for for years.
But for renters, the fight is far from over, especially when it comes to social housing. The Queen’s Speech also included a Social Housing Regulation Bill, aimed at reinforcing the rights of social tenants post-Grenfell.
Over the last year, countless videos showing the dire conditions in social housing have emerged on social media. Some tenants have been living with mould on the walls and water leaks for months or years, but haven’t received any help from their council or housing association.
The bill aims to improve the complaints process, and includes more powers for the Regulator of Social Housing, and more severe penalties for landlords who fail to comply with the standards.
This can only be the beginning of a process to ensure social renters live in adequate conditions.
Landlords in the crosshairs “can’t afford to stand still”, says Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley Group. She’s right: these bills finally start to shift the odds in favour of renters, rather than landlords.