The House of Lords has been told the government’s consultation on plans to axe section 21 will be held this summer, with good landlords having ‘nothing to fear’ about the plans.
They were also told there is: “no intention to hang about”.
The former Mayor of Watford, Baroness Thornhill (Liberal Democrat) yesterday asked a question about the likely timetable for the recently proposed consultation to end no fault evictions and how it will differ from the consultation ‘Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector’ of July 2018.
The Housing Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Minister in the Lords, Lord Bourne, said: “There was no widespread support for a fixed-term tenancy model.
“We concluded that the best way to introduce greater security was to remove Section 21 no-fault evictions, strengthen existing Section 8 eviction grounds and reform court processes.
“We want to collaborate with landlords and tenants to ensure that these reforms are introduced effectively. We expect to consult on our proposals over the summer.”
When will changes come in?
In her supplementary question, Baroness Thornhill welcomed the end of Section 21 repossessions, but went on to say:
“Given that there will be opposition from landlords, what measures will the government put in place to ensure that this excellent policy will be effective and immediate and not delayed or thwarted by the threat of rent hikes or the pulling of properties from the market?”
The Minister responded: “There is certainly no intention to hang about with this: we want to consult, particularly on Section 8 and what the ground should be for ending tenancies.
“That is an important part of this. It has been widely welcomed, including by many landlord groups, in all fairness. Responsible landlords have nothing to fear from this; it is essentially about being fair to landlords and tenants.”
Lord Best said: “I congratulate the government on this important measure, giving much greater security of tenure to tenants and promising that landlords will have swifter processes when a tenant really is at fault.
“Does the Minister agree that one of the big gains from this will be that tenants will not be afraid to make complaints against landlords who are behaving badly? At the moment, people fear retaliatory evictions and are very often silent when they should stand up for their rights.”
In agreeing with the point made, the Minister replied: “The essence of what we propose is that this is right for responsible landlords and it is right by tenants, who indeed sometimes go in fear of making complaints because of the possibility of eviction.
“That concerns a very small number of landlords, but this will knock that into shape to ensure we have the fairness of which I spoke.”
Baroness Grender (Liberal Democrat, Vice Chair of the APPG for the PRS) told the House: “Since Scotland scrapped no-fault evictions over a year ago, ONS data suggests that rental inflation has remained lower, the private rented sector has remained stable, and the change has not had an adverse impact on homeless people?
“There was a time when a Conservative Government thought it was perfectly normal to implement a change in Scotland, see how it went and then do it in England. Why cannot we do that now for the tenants who so desperately need this?”
The Minister said: “We have indeed looked at what is happening in Scotland. While we are not replicating it, there are certainly lessons to be learned.”
Servicemen and women
Lord Vinson said: “I hope any new legislation will make it possible for servicemen and others who need to go abroad as part of their jobs to be able when they come home to reclaim the houses they have let. I am afraid that a great many houses will not come on the market for letting if that is not made possible.”
The Minister described this as an “important point” and said that this is why the Government will be consulting on the legitimate grounds that landlords should have to repossess property.
Potential housing shortage
Picking up on a theme outlined in the RLA’s email to him and other peers, Lord Naseby (Conservative) said: “Is there not a wider problem? The latest statistics indicate that the number of properties available to be rented is falling at a time when demand is pretty firm.
“Will these discussions address that problem? If not, there will only be a great shortage of housing for younger people who want to rent and be genuine tenants.”
Observing that he was “right about the importance of ensuring a steady supply of housing in general” and “the rented sector in particular”, the Minister continued: “That is why this provision is so welcome, because it ensures security for tenants across the board where previously some have not had it, while doing right by landlords and ensuring that, where appropriate, they can regain premises that are let out.”
To read the full transcript of proceedings click here.
- The RLA is inviting landlords to share their experiences of regaining possession of properties – and asking what assurances they need to have confidence in the sector and continue renting homes. The survey went live just days after the government announced plans to axe Section 21 repossessions – so-called ‘no fault’ evictions – last month and more than 6,000 landlords have already taken part. To share your views click here.