Private renters have long been suffering at the hands of dodgy landlords, absurd rates and ridiculous stipulations – but this week marks a major positive breakthrough in the sector.
New government plans mean that landlords are no longer allowed to evict tenants without having a good reason. It was announced on Monday (15 April) that plans are in the works to abolish Section 21 evictions, which currently allow landlords to end tenancies with as little as eight-weeks’ notice after a fixed-term contract has come to an end.
Evidence shows that unfair evictions made under Section 21 have been one of the biggest reasons for people finding themselves homeless, so this long overdue change will surely mean that renters can sleep a bit better at night, knowing that they have some added security.
With good news being such a rarity in the rental sector, this is definitely something worth celebrating. But, just to be sure: what exactly qualifies as a ‘good enough reason’ to evict tenants? Currently, many renters are afraid to make complaints or report needed repairs in fear of being turfed out of their homes. Under the new proposals, landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end. However, it is also worth noting that under further changes made to Amendment 8, landlords can still give short notice if they intend to move into or sell the property.
The news comes at a crucial time for the 4.5 million privately rented households around the country. Living in a rented home has never been more precarious, with rates in London alone rising by 38% between 2005 and 2016. Along with this increase in non-affordable private renting, the number of people who rent within the sector in the UK has doubled in size since 2002. For people living in the capital, this just might possibly have something to do with the average price for a one-bedroom flat in London now being more than the average for a three-bedroom home in other English regions.
With the Tenants Fee Act 2019 recently brought in to ban letting fees and cap tenancy deposits, it seems like the current government are actually tackling the housing crisis a little better than other certain issues (ahem!). Speaking about the plans to abolish Section 21, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Everyone renting in the private sector has the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence. But millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification. This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions.”
As it’s expected that a quarter of all households will be renting by the end of 2021, hopefully this is just the start of ensuring more rights for renters.