UK: Landlords will no longer be able to carry out rental tenant evictions with summary notices without good reason after changes were made to the UK Housing Act.
Under current laws, landlords have the power to evict “no fault” tenants with a Section 21 notice of the Housing Act 1988 following the expiry of a fixed-term rental contract, even if they have no reason to do so. These landlords are able to evict tenants with notice of sometimes as little as eight weeks.
However, the government has now ruled that landlords will soon have to provide “concrete evidenced reason already specified in law” in order to evict tenants legally in future.
In areas such as Tower Hamlets in London, renters have campaigned for five years for a change in the lettings rulings, with some landlords evicting tenants for simply complaining about dangerous conditions in their property.
Housing minister James Brokenshire said that the government had decided to act because evictions have become one of the most significant factors behind family homelessness. He added that landlords had effectively been creating “open-ended tenancies”.
Speaking to East London Advertiser, Brokenshire said: “Landlords act as if they have no responsibility towards tenants. They often seem they hold all the cards.
“This needs to change as a home is a right and not just something to be traded, especially for families and those forever being squeezed out of the East End. Ending evictions without a proper reason will help rebalance power between landlords and tenants,” he added.
In London’s East End, the council says that landlords who are caught contravening the rules could be set to face a criminal conviction with an unlimited fine or financial penalty of up to £30,000.
Campaigners are now asking for the government to establish rent controls with inflation caps to ensure greater security and stability for families who are renting.
In a statement, deputy mayor Sirajul Islam said: “Ending ‘no fault’ evictions is welcome, but we need the government to redress the balance between landlords and tenants. Those in rented accommodation want the security of knowing they won’t be evicted for no reason.”
London Renters Union’s Amina Gichinga also told East London Advertiser: “Section 21 is pernicious legislation that renters will be glad to see the back of. The legislation brought in 30 years ago allows landlords to evict tenants at a moment’s notice, leaving misery and homelessness in its wake.”
“But landlords can still force us out simply by hiking up rents. We’re not just ‘a convenient source of income’ for property investors—we are people who need homes to live in,” she added.
The Renters Union launched in east London last year and now counts thousands of members in its ranks.
In England alone, there are an estimated 11 million private renters.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, which represents private property owners, told the i newspaper that he accepted the calls for change, but said property owners had to use the 21 Section notice as they had “no confidence” in the courts to deal with possession claims “quickly and surely”.
As such, landlords would be able to repossess properties at short notice for legitimate reasons in cases such as rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or when they wanted to sell.