Reforming the Private Rented Sector Reform in England | Removal of Section 21
The 2022 white paper A fairer private rented sector outlines proposals to abolish Section 21. This is one of the more controversial elements of their plans for reforming the sector.
Section 21 allows landlords to evict tenants without having to give a reason. Tenant groups argue that Section 21 contributes to feelings of insecurity within the sector and negatively impacts tenants willingness to report issues.
Landlords groups argue that landlords generally only use Section 21 because the alternative (Section 8) is more difficult. Landlord groups have warned that the removal of Section 21 will result in more landlords leaving the sector. Reductions in supply would exacerbate difficulties tenants already face in accessing housing. However, there is a lack of reliable data on this issue.
The Government also plans to reform grounds for possession and to reform court processes to make sure that landlords have effective means to gain possession of their properties when necessary. Initially the Government considered introducing a specialist housing court. However, this idea has now been disbanded. In a separate consultation, the Government has outlined the reforms it will introduce to tackle the issues associated court processes which includes digitising most possession claims and providing earlier access to advice for renters.
In a 2022 survey carried out with a representative sample of over 2,000 tenants which was funded by TDS Charitable Foundation, 61% said the removal of Section 21 would make them feel they had more stability in their property. This suggests that for 49% of tenants in the sector, other factors are more important in shaping their feelings of security.
In a 2021 qualitative study exploring wellbeing funded by the TDS Charitable Foundation and Safe Deposit Scotland Charitable Trust, many tenants said the relationship with their landlord was the main factor which affected their feelings of security.
In a 2022 UK-wide survey (funded by our charitable foundations) carried out with over 1000 landlords, most landlords taking part said that being a “good landlord” meant having a positive relationship with tenants.
These findings suggest Section 21 is only one of many factors that influences tenants feelings of security.
TDS Policy Position
The Government believes that reforming Section 21 will reduce feelings of security and increase tenants willingness to report issues with their tenancy. However, research shows a wider range of factors contributes to feelings of security. Drawing on our experience of encouraging positive interactions between landlords, tenants and letting agents, TDS believes more attention should be awarded to encouraging harmonious relationships and good communication within the sector.
TDS supports reforms to the current court systems to improve efficiency and make it easier for landlords and tenants to go to court. Building on our own work of digitising dispute resolution, we support the further digitisation of court processes.
Building on our experience of funding a range of projects which provide support to renters, we support the provision of earlier advice for renters.