MPs Demand a Firm Date for Section 21 Abolition

Influential MPs are urging Housing Secretary Michael Gove not to leave the timetable open-ended for scrapping Section 21 no-fault evictions.

Labour MP Clive Betts, who chairs parliament’s Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, has written to Gove demanding the scrapping of no-fault evictions should not be ‘indefinitely delayed’.

The row between MPs and ministers comes after the abolition of no-fault evictions should be left until justice system reforms have been completed. Still, politicians and property experts alike say this could take years.

“The government should be getting on with ensuring courts can fast-track claims rather than kicking the can down the road on private rental reform and seeking to make flimsy excuses for it delaying introducing the provision to ban ‘no fault’ evictions,” said Betts in an open letter to Gove.

Timetable needed

“Too many tenants currently experience unfair evictions and insecurity of tenure. Rather than seeking to cast the blame elsewhere for delaying reform, including in the direction of our committee, the government should be setting out a clear timetable for when it will implement the provisions of the Renters (Reform) Bill and ensure the legal system is fit to handle the consequences of the abolition of Section 21. Tenants and landlords deserve that clarity and assurance.”

The government claims delays in scrapping Section 21 are mainly due to the slow pace of court reforms that would free time for judges to consider eviction cases.

Typically, a court takes nine weeks to process a case. If bailiffs are needed, another six weeks can be added to the timeline. Several more weeks can be added to the case timeline in some parts of the country with busy courts.

What is a no-fault eviction?

A no-fault eviction, allowed under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, is when a landlord gives a tenant notice to quit because they want the property back for personal reasons, like to live in or sell.

Landlords do not have to give tenants a reason for asking them to leave under Section 21.

The Renters (Reform) Bill included a clause to scrap no-fault evictions and to replace them with a new procedure that gives landlords mandatory reasons to ask tenants to leave. The change was prompted by fears that landlords were manipulating Section 21 to unfairly evict tenants complaining about living standards in their rented homes.

The letter follows King’s Speech, in which the Renters (Reform) Bill was carried forward to the new session of Parliament after receiving a delayed second reading in the House of Commons.

Some MPs and housing experts argue the legislation has already taken four years to reach this stage and may be dropped if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls an early general election. In any case, Sunak must call an election by December 17, 2024.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee is a cross-party group of MPs scrutinising the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities policy, administration and spending.

Gove has yet to reply to the letter.

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