Campaigns Regulation and Enforcement

Corbyn calls for the end of Section 21 evictions

Dr Tom Simcock
Written by Dr Tom Simcock

Jeremy Corbyn has called for the end of Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices and has wrongly claimed that the sector is unregulated. RLA evidence shows that landlords are not evicting for no reason, but mainly due to rent arrears.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has called for the end of Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices in an article in The Independent.

He has claimed this will be a key housing pledge as part of the Labour party’s next election manifesto. Corbyn and the Labour party believe that Landlords should not be able to evict a tenant for no reason and blames the increases in homelessness on Section 21 evictions.

In the article, Corbyn further argues that the sector is unregulated and there needs to be more regulation around longer-term tenancies. Mr Corbyn told The Independent: “At the moment we have a largely deregulated private rented sector in Britain and people can be evicted or have their tenancy terminated at the end of six months for no reason whatsoever”.

However, the RLA argues that Corbyn is painting an inaccurate picture of the private rented sector and of the behaviour by good landlords.

The argument that the private rented sector is largely deregulated is completely false. From our own research in 2012, we identified there are over 400 regulations and 100 laws that Landlords have to abide by.

Also, all of the evidence shows that tenants are staying in their homes for longer and that it is Social Landlords that are evicting more tenants.

Figures from the latest English Housing Survey show that tenants living in the private rented sector have lived in their homes for on average four years.

In addition, the latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that Social Landlords have made 294% more claims for possession than private landlords in Q3 2017. Furthermore, Landlord possession claims to repossession decreased in Q3 2017, continuing the downward trend seen since Q2 2014.

Landlords simply do not evict on a whim least of all families; it is a decision that costs them. Rather landlords want good tenants to stay in their homes for the long-term and are evicting predominately due to breaches of the tenancy agreement.

Our evidence from the RLA’s Research Lab, PEARL, shows that 60% of landlords had to regain possession due to rent arrears, with rent arrears now at an average of £1534.95. We estimate that this equates to £874 million owed to landlords in the past 12 months.

Moreover, the same research shows that the majority of landlords planned to keep the rent the same for the next 12 months (55%) to help retain their tenants in the property for the long-term (68%). This is evidence that landlords do not go out of their way to evict tenants, rather landlords look to help their tenants and do what they can to keep their tenant in their home for the long-term.

The RLA is supportive of the principle of longer-term tenancies dependent on the circumstance of the tenant. We are calling for reform of mortgage and insurance conditions that prevent longer tenancies from being offered, but we are also campaigning for tax relief for longer-term tenancies.

Unfortunately, there are circumstances when landlords need to legitimately regain possession of their property, such as rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, and illegal activities by the tenant.

The current Section 8 process and court system is not fit for purpose, with repossession taking on average 41 weeks.

This can place significant financial pressure on a landlord and could mean the landlord risks defaulting on any financial commitments associated with the property. All while rent arrears continue to build, leaving the landlords in further financial loss.

We are campaigning for reform to the current Section 8 process with a new Housing Court.

We believe this would make the system more efficient but also fairer to both landlords and tenants.

This reform would provide landlords with the confidence that if something untoward does unfortunately happen then they would be able to regain possession of their property easily.

About the author

Dr Tom Simcock

Dr Tom Simcock

Tom is the Senior Researcher for the RLA and leads the RLA’s research lab; the Private renting Evidence, Analysis and Research Lab (PEARL). His expertise lies in researching change in society, public policy and quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Tom’s research on housing has received national media coverage, featuring on the front page of The Times, has influenced government policy making, and has been cited in debates in the House of Commons, House of Lords and by the London Mayor.

17 Comments

  • Perhaps we should do away with Corbyn rather than section 21 Notices. We will see rising rents due to investors leaving the market when osbourne’s punitive taxes bite fully. Politicians are fools they punish landlords which translates into punishing tenants the people they purport to be helping!

  • Re – Corbyns comments on PRS landlords and abolishing Section 21…
    My profile / portfolio…
    I have 2 “DSS” tenants where Greenwich Council pays their rent. The most recent has been in the property for 3.5 years, looks after the flat wonderfully and pays the rent on time every month. Her rent has remained unchanged for 3.5 years and I have no intention of moving her out or increasing the rent beyond her means. Why would I??? The previous tenant caused me untold grief, had significant arrears (£3,500) and did £1,100 of damage before moving out.
    The other “DSS” tenant has been in the flat for about 10 years and is a hoarder. The way the place is kept has meant that when there have been leaks these haven’t been identified until the damage has been significant. The flat is dirty and cluttered. Her rent has increased once by about £30 per month during the last 10 year because there is a limit on what the local council will pay for a 3 bed flat. If I rent privately I will get at least £400 per month more than I am getting at the moment. Consequently, I expect to give her a Section 21 Notice in the next couple of months, will then spend £25k completely refurbishing the flat before renting it out again. Why wouldn’t I???
    My other tenants – 2 bedroom flat rented out to the same middle-aged couple for 6 years, kept absolutely spotless, rent is fairly regular and hasn’t been increased in 6 years. I am happy with what I am earning, boy do they look after the place, so why would I increase the rent and run the risk of losing fantastic tenants???
    Finally – 2 bedroom house rented to a family with 2 very young children. They have been in the house for 20 months and look after it reasonably well. The welcome letter specifically states that the rent will go up by 1.5% per annum so both they, and I, know what to expect in future years. If they don’t look after the house then I will ask them to move on but will give them plenty of opportunity to tidy, etc. before it comes to that. With 2 very young children you can’t expect the house to remain immaculate.

  • Typical Corbyn adherence to socialist assumptions- All tenants good, all Landlords bad. He will persuade the good landlord that there is no hope for fair treatment, and there will be an exodus from the private rental sector. Houses will be sold but not at prices that tenants can afford so Councils will have to provide instead. Very intelligent!

    A good tenant is highly valued and rents are kept steady to keep them. Why doesn’t he look at the grounds of evictions, the arrears, the unsocial behaviour, the breaches of contract (by prostitutes, or businesses) before he indulges his doctrinaire and wholly bogus assumptions?

    Section 21’s should not be abandoned but strengthened to streamline them!

  • Surely if all Landlords get together on this and act under your guidance something can be done about it. If you agree count me in

  • We paid a full year in advance (£36k) and the landlord issued us a Section 21 notice after 4 months because he didn’t want to do the repairs or replace the malfunctioning appliances as he’d originally promised.

    He kept hold of our money and said we’d only get it back if we left without a fuss. Total revenge eviction but the council say it’s a civil matter.

    We’ve been conned and find there’s nothing we can do without paying out a small fortune to a lawyer. Section 21 should not be applicable to tenancies that are prepaid. I support Corbyn fully in this.

  • If the RLA are lobbying for private landlords it would be important that any new legislation regarding the rights of tenants to stay beyond the end of a fixed term tenancy recognises that some landlords intend to live in or sell a property at a certain date as part of their overall financial planning (such pension provision or downsizing on retirement). If tenants can not be asked to leave at the expected date this would further shrink the size of the sector and availability of rented properties.

  • Yes we currently have very good tenants but have experienced bad ones in the past – similar position to what Paul describes and I agree with you all Geoff, Philippa and Beryl – count us in too!

  • Good tenants are valued and so should good landlords be valued too, there is enough legislation to convict a bad or rogue landlord. If homelessness is a problem for the nation then the root of the issue needs to be looked at, (ie) building more homes or pushing the city outwards to incorporate more homes. Landlords have and will always be a soft target but using this for political gain is not in the best interests of the nation. PRS have always supported the community and without PRS landlords, the outlook is bleak for everyone in the housing sector. There has to be a element of fairness and this is not happening within the PRS and the Government. Time for Landlords to get together to have one voice. Count me in

    • Rather than all this need for more homes to be built why don’t we try taking a few steps back and looking at our culture? Why not encourage families to live together? Why do grown up children have to leave and find a place of their own when there is plenty of spare space and the parents house? If we all filled our own homes up, with our own families, there wouldn’t be this constant need to build more homes/rent more homes

  • All politicians need an “enemy” to demonise and provide a focal point to unite their followers. In the past going to war was a classic way to unite a country but that needs a weak enemy you can bully into submission so not many of them left bow a days (Argentina?let’s retake the Falklands?). More recently big business was the socialist’s enemy but now that they fund the political parties of both colours the parties try not to openly bite the hand that feeds them. Private landlords however tend to be individuals who cannot easily fight back. That makes us easy targets for labour who attack us to showcase their socialist credentials. It also makes us cash cows for the Tories who know they can bleed us white without risking too much of their own core vote and in doing so also claim to be listening to the left wing bleeding hearts and maybe swing a few over to the Tories (Never happen of course, like if the Tories gave the NHS unlimited funds it still wouldn’t be enough). So attack private landlords! Win-win for everyone apart from Private Landlords who everyone agrees are all just scum, exploting the downtrodden and living high on the hog from less fortunate people’s misery! Now I must go and throw a single mother and her 4 children out of the cupboard under the stairs that I’ve let them have for only £1,000 a week (plus bills) as my gesture towards Christmas good will. However I need the space now to pack away the festive decorations!

  • It seems that there are still plenty of landlords who seemingly treat property merely as a financial investment. They appear not to consider the lives of the individuals and families living in their properties nor that their property is also someone else’s home. Such a crudely narrow and simplistic financial approach, that might lead to homelessness, is not only astonishingly naive it is also morally repugnant.

    I too own several properties (some with tenants that have been resident for years), so I understand the issues, however being a landlord isn’t a zero-sum game. One can also strive to be fair, reasonable and ethical at the same time. I’d like to think that some of those reading this article think so too.

    (For example, though under different laws, this is what is happening in Scotland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-42179428. Perhaps, instead of criticising Corbyn, we could focus on the issues he raises and see how we could be better landlords whilst also serving society better.)

    @Tom Simcock. A good timely article. However, using the argument that ‘social landlords are worse than private landlords’ does your research a potential disservice.

  • So let me get this right…. Jeremy wants to take my ability away to decide who I want living in my house which I own and also pay the mortgage for??? Confused.com

  • Try the system in Scotland. No landlord can ask a tenant to leave without taking them to court. Fair enough? ALL tenants have to go to court? Madness. Worse all landlords have to take tenants to court at a average cost between £12-1800 in costs. Follow the money……. looking after the MIB’s. No LA continues to pay benefits or resurrect LHA or UC claims until the court business is resolved…….. Government saves a fortune The legislative edifice has become an overhanging cliff up here – just waiting to fall on the HAHAHA “ROGUE” landlord. There are no rogue tenants. So what they going to do next? Watch out family businesses everywhere, especially small cafes, shops etc. We know they are already disappearing……..

  • No one seems to have pointed out that sometimes S21 is used as a way to get rid of tenants who could be taken to court on S8 grounds. It’s more certain for the landlord and face-saving for the tenants who leave without fault being attributed to them. So Corbyn wants more tenants to find it more difficult to rent again.

    Prehaps the RLA could include a question on S21 substitution for S8 in the next survey?

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