In the wake of the controversial announcement that Section 21 – the so-called no fault eviction – is to be abolished, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP writes exclusively for RLA magazine Residential Property Investor, vowing to work with the association to develop a possession process that works for all.
“The government’s recent announcement of reforms across the private rented sector are of crucial importance to tenants and landlords alike and I’d like to thank the RLA for giving me the opportunity to set out our thinking behind the announcement and outline the timetable for reform.
Landlords play a vital role in this country’s housing market and it is important we work together to get our reforms right for everyone.
The private rented sector has changed dramatically since the current rules were created in 1988 – as has the wider housing market, the jobs market and indeed the whole economy.
The rules governing the sector need to reflect these changes – and private renters tell us that what they want most is to have more security and stability in their home.
‘Few landlords evict without reason’
We know that the vast majority of landlords provide their tenants with a decent home and good quality service – and that few landlords evict good tenants without a sound reason.
Tenants have greater legal security in almost all other comparable countries, including those with larger private rented sectors than ours.
So, the time is right to ask what a new, fairer deal for both landlords and tenants could look like.
We are not starting with a fixed view of exactly what that new deal should be and look forward to working closely with the RLA and others in the sector.
However, we do have a clear basis to work from, based on what landlords, tenants and others in the sector have told us.
It will mean removing the threat of eviction without explanation under Section 21, so tenants can put down roots and plan for the future with more confidence.
But it will also mean assuring landlords that they can get their property back when they need to, without recourse to Section 21, by making other parts of the system perform better.
Strengthening Section 8
Which is why, first of all, we will be strengthening Section 8 to give landlords further grounds to repossess – for example if they need to sell or move into their home.
We will also explore whether some of the existing grounds need to be updated too, so that landlords have the powers they need.
Ultimately, both landlords and tenants stand to benefit from a more stable and secure legal framework – for investment, letting and renting alike.
We know that there are a lot of details to work through, and we are determined to get them right, with the support of groups like the RLA.
This is the start of a process and it is vital we continue to listen to the sector, and work with you to ensure your concerns are addressed.
We’ll be consulting formally, as you would expect, but we’ll also be sitting down with as many groups and individuals in the sector as possible, to make sure we really understand all your concerns and to come up with workable solutions together.
This process has to involve other parts of government as we consider wider system changes – it won’t succeed by reforming tenancy law alone.
For example, our recent call for evidence showed that landlords who experience the eviction process via the courts as unduly slow and complex, are increasingly dependent upon Section 21.
We know that changes in the law, the court process, and resourcing will need to go hand in glove with tenancy reform, to meet these concerns.
I look forward to working closely with the RLA and others in the sector over the coming months as we develop the all-important details with the aim of delivering a private rental market that is fit for the future.
- Since the announcement was made the RLA has worked tirelessly to highlight the impact the changes will have on landlords and the knock-on effect on tenants, with appearances on BBC, ITV and Sky News and coverage in all major national newspapers.