Campaigns Regulation and Enforcement

Section 21: Wheeler says ‘new deal’ vital for PRS

Written by Heather Wheeler

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.

Formal consultation

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.

  • The association has surveyed landlords to get their opinion on what the new process should look like.
  • The survey is now closed, and more than 6000 landlords shared their views-an RLA record. The RLA is also encouraging landlords to write to their local MP about changes to possession reform

About the author

Heather Wheeler

Conservative MP Heather Kay Wheeler was first elected as MP for South Derbyshire at the 2010 general election. She is now Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.

10 Comments

  • I am pleased to read that Heather Wheeler will take into account the views of landlords as well as tenants. There is no doubt that the RLA has played a key role in this. If Sec 21 were to be revoked, then Sec 8 needs considerable re-work. Simple examples such as landlord retirement, moving abroad, ill-health or financial distress should be factored into Sec 8 along with other considerations raised by landlords other than me. The RLA needs to keep the pressure on the government because, as we know, being a “Minister” for any given department, does not automatically make for intelligent execution of new laws and could give rise to the “laws of unintended consequences”. As a result of these proposed changes, I have considered selling my modest portfolio but I will now hold off my decision pending further updates. Good work RLA.

  • “Tenants have greater legal security in almost all other comparable countries, including those with larger private rented sectors than ours. ”

    I don’t know if that statement is true but if it is a foundational argument then the corollary must be the tax treatments that purchase, sale, and death attract such as in Germany.

    • 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.

      NO. RLA NEED TO PUSH FOR THESE CHANGES AHEAD OF S.21 REVOCATION SO THAT TEETHING PROBS CAN BE RESOLVED.

  • Landlords are in the “business” of being a landlord – it is not meant to be a charitable act. However harsh it may seem, I am a landlord to earn a living.

    How can it be justifiable that landlords can be taxed to within an inch of their lives, lose any incentives of being a landlord and then be forced to keep a tenant any longer than the landlord wishes. Whilst taking the risk of coming across as totally mercenary, it is my humble opinion that if market forces dictate that rents rise over a period of time, a landlord should be able to benefit from the rise by either requesting increases from current tenants or legally evicting and then finding new tenants ready, willing and able to pay an increased rent. If market forces caused rents to go the other way, a landlord would obviously have to reduce their expectations or run the risk of having property/ies standing empty.

    If rents were to fall significantly over a period of time, I would imagine most tenants would demand a rent reduction, or would up sticks and leave a tenancy and find somewhere cheaper. The landlord would be left holding the baby with zero recourse. “take the tenant to court, get your money” etc etc we hear this all the time but as we all know, in reality, this is a pipe dream. We lose out financially every single time

  • I am afraid it is very difficult to have any confidence at all in this government given their recent actions regarding the PRS and their failure to carryout their manifest promises to the electorate as a whole.

  • I am a landlord heavily impacted by the Section 24 finance act. This has led to 4 properties already sold with another 4 or 5 going in the near future. To force landlords out was the stated intention of the legislation – to supposedly give FTBs a chance to buy up the properties and also put renting more in the hands of the build to rent sector rather than individuals such as me.

    The government hasn’t retreated from this view or pulled back on any of the legislation only pressed ahead with additional measures to further increase the pressure on me to exit the sector. There is no point in telling landlords in my position that any further changes are for my benefit or will help me build a more stable business etc etc. I have never used S21 in anger and have been a landlord since 1991 with my longest tenant in situ for 20 years on what became a periodic tenancy in the year 2000. I got George Osborne’s message loud and clear 4 years ago, I just laugh now when another new person takes over a housing role and completely ignores what is to them ancient history and wants the government, landlords and tenants to play happy families.

    And what is this ” need ” to sell by a landlord as an acceptable ground under a revised Section 8? The whole tone of this is already sounding ominous. Nobody needs an additional classic car (as an example) but they may want one and wish to sell a house to fund it. That leads on to how on earth you PROVE an intention to sell before you can even take back the property to present and dress it correctly for sale. What if your chosen classic car soars in value before you have found a buyer and you realise you can’t afford it and pull the house off the market and re-let it. Will the evicted tenant have grounds to challenge their eviction. I can see far more court time being needed to cover potential disputes such as this.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.