Phil Cooper, lettings partner at Arnolds Keys, discusses plans to abolish Section 21 evictions.

After many delays, this week housing minister Michael Gove finally outlined a timetable for the abolition of so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions, confirming that the measure will be enacted before the general election.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to landlords, as the policy was part of the 2019 Conservative manifesto. It is part of the wider Renters Reform Bill, which has been considerably delayed but looks like finally becoming law this year.

Eastern Daily Press: Phil Cooper, lettings partner at Arnolds KeysPhil Cooper, lettings partner at Arnolds Keys (Image: Arnolds Keys)

It remains to be seen how much difference the abolition of Section 21 will make, given that the majority of such evictions are down to landlords wanting to take back possession of their properties either to live in them or sell them – and this will still be possible under the new legislation.

While there is no denying that a minority of landlords have abused Section 21, most of the remaining cases are evictions that might perhaps be more appropriate under Section 8 rules, designed to enable landlords to evict tenants who are not paying rent, have caused damage to their properties, demonstrated anti-social behaviour or otherwise breached their tenancies.

Why do landlords not pursue these evictions using Section 8? Because the process is lengthy, bureaucratic and expensive. In 2022 there were 31,000 outstanding cases awaiting resolution in the courts; in 2023 that number is set to double. Small wonder landlords take the simpler quicker Section 21 option. 

The result is the same – eviction – but it does very much skew the figures and exaggerate the number of ‘no fault’ evictions, stoking calls for reform.

Alongside the abolition of Section 21, it is vital that the government improves the mechanism through which landlords can evict nightmare tenants, who should not have the right to remain in a property simply because the legal system can’t cope.

If Section 21 is abolished without reform and improvement of Section 8, many landlords will have second thoughts about entering the market, if they believe that getting their property back when tenancies break down is nigh on impossible. 

Ultimately, it will be tenants who pay the price, with an even more restricted supply of properties driving rents up.

It is right that action is taken to prevent the minority of landlords who abuse the system. But if the net result is penalising both the majority of landlords who act honourably and tenants themselves, then the reforms will have failed.  

The government needs to implement reform of the whole system to benefit everyone, not just an eye-catching headline policy that might win a few votes at the election.

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