Section 21 allows “no fault” evictions, leading to family homelessness. While some landlords use it as a last resort, others misuse it for arbitrary evictions. The delay in the Renter’s Reform Bill could cause more pre-emptive evictions, especially during holidays. Both landlords and tenants need protection. The urgent need: end Section 21 evictions.

By Sue Edmonds

Section 21 is the largest cause of family homelessness. A family living in rented accommodation is given notice to leave with “no fault” – it’s not arrears, it’s not a breach of tenancy, it’s “no fault”, and they are now homeless as a result.

Section 21 is a double-edged sword used as a last resort – the nuclear option – by good landlords who have been pushed to the end of a difficult relationship with a tenant; there may have been continuous low-level issues, spikes of ASB, arrears accrued and then paid off before action is taken, sometimes for years, and a landlord may just want the tenant to move on.

It’s sometimes quite difficult being a landlord.

However, Section 21 is used on a whim by unscrupulous landlords who don’t care about the tenant, they just want them gone, to raise the rent, to pause letting, to flip a property, or because the tenant complained about something that the landlord should have sorted but didn’t want to.

It’s sometimes quite difficult being a tenant.

Some good tenants have horrible stories about bad landlords…

Some good landlords have horrible stories about bad tenants…

No matter what the reason Section 21 often means one thing – homelessness.

The second reading of the Renter’s Reform Bill this week saw the Government kick the idea of banning Section 21 evictions into the long grass of “the justice system needs to be fit for purpose”, an indefinite delay that will mean more families will experience homelessness.

As an organisation that works with landlords, and as a landlord ourselves, we know that there needs to be protection for landlords who want to safeguard their livelihood and their property. As an organisation that works to support tenants, we know there needs to be protection from arbitrary eviction.

The bolstering of the guidance around evictions where arrears, breeches, ASB are present is welcomed. It gives landlords a clear roadmap, but there also needs to be a pragmatic approach to ensure good landlords aren’t punished, and good tenants aren’t disadvantaged.

The delay in banning Section 21 may have a more practical immediate knock-on though.

There is an increased and immediate risk that landlords who are concerned about the uncertainty and the implications for them, or landlords who are confused by what is coming could use the nuclear option now as some sort of pre-emptive strike – resulting in tenants being evicted “just in case”, resulting in more households become homeless in the lead up to Christmas…

Section 21 evictions need to end now. We’ve been waiting too long.