The government has announced the end of 'section 21'
Today marks a huge victory for housing campaigners. The Government has announced they will scrap section 21, ending ‘no fault’ evictions in England which have caused misery and hardship for millions of private renters and eroded our communities.
It’s also a win for collectivism. This wasn’t a campaign taken up by just one organisation or led by a particular political party but a campaign wedded in the grassroots housing movement.
At Generation Rent, we’ve been calling for section 21 to be abolished for years but it was last summer that we got serious. We joined forces with London Renters Union, ACORN, Tenants Union UK, and the New Economics Foundation to launch the End Unfair Evictions campaign.
With the help of our amazing activists and supporters we collected 50,000 signatures on a petition to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire calling for an end to section 21 and thousands wrote to their MPs and into a government consultation on security of tenure for private renters.
We trained up tenants to speak to the media about their own section 21 experiences, and ran local campaigns across the country, persuading 13 local councils to formally back the campaign.
Today our hard work is paying off. The Conservative government announced this morning that private renters in England will be able to stay in their homes as long as they like without being locked in, unless the landlord proves legitimate grounds for possession. And in Wales on Saturday, the First Minister announced an end to no-fault eviction for Welsh tenants.
One in five people are now private renting, and that figure is much higher in some areas. Politicians are realising that we are a growing political force to be reckoned with, and they can no longer ignore our calls for a radical overhaul to make private renting a tenure fit to live in in the 21st century.
The announcement that the government will end section 21 evictions and create open-ended tenancies is brilliant, but it’s also just the start. We’ve got to make sure that the detail of this policy is right for renters, and we’ll be working with government and feeding into their forthcoming consultation on this.
For example, we know they’ll allow grounds for landlords to evict if they want to sell the property or move back in, so we need make sure that tenants evicted for these reasons get a longer notice period than the current two months, compensation to mitigate the financial hardship of an unwanted move, and that there are safeguards such as requiring landlord to prove they really do intend to sell.
We can learn from Scotland, where open-ended tenancies were introduced in 2017, to ensure that the new tenancy achieves its potential for renters. We also need to make sure that rent rises are capped or can be effectively challenged within the new tenancy.
Ending no fault evictions won’t make the difference needed if landlords can increase the rent by hundreds of pounds a month to drive out tenants economically if they report a leak.
The End Unfair Evictions campaign isn’t over until section 21 is gone for good. We’ll be working with private renters to get the details of this new tenancy right and ensure tenants can easily feed into the government consultation when that comes out. Make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list if you’re keen to feed in your own experiences.
In the meantime, a well-deserved pat on the back for all our amazing campaign partners and supporters. The announcement that section 21 will be scrapped is a huge victory for private renters. A home where you feel secure is vital for all of us if we are to thrive in our lives, to our families, and our communities, and today we’re a step closer to this.
Georgie Laming is the campaigns lead at Generation Rent.