Calls for three-year tenancies have already been mooted by the government, and some groups are now calling for new laws to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants.
Landlords should not be able to take back their tenanted properties if they want to sell or move back in, or have the ability to evict tenants under Section 21 of the Housing Act, unless the tenants do not meet their legal obligations, is the view from pressure group Generation Rent.
At the moment under a Section 21 eviction notice, once the tenancy contract has expired, a landlord can give the tenant two months’ notice to vacate the property, without having to give a reason to the tenant. This is often done in the case of the landlord wishing to move back into the property, sell it, or carry out renovations. A notice cannot be served if it is less than six months since the start of the tenancy, or if it is an unlicensed HMO, unless the tenant has not fulfilled their side of the contract, such as not paying rent – in which case another type of eviction process comes in.
Giving tenants security
But Generation Rent director Dan Wilson Craw says that although the government’s three-year minimum tenancy proposal is a good start, more should be done to protect tenants and give them security, and he believes Section 21 notices should be scrapped.
“[Tenants] should also have the knowledge that, so long as they meet their legal obligations, the home is theirs. If landlords can evict a blameless tenant, the rental market will keep failing to provide the certainty we associate with home.
“Ending Section 21 would still allow evictions if a tenant breaks the contract. If a landlord wants to sell, that’s fine, but they should sell to another landlord, with the tenants staying put – or to the tenants themselves. If they want somewhere to live, they can rent.”
Generation Rent is also supported by London Assembly members, with Sian Better AM commenting: “Having to move at short notice is one of the worst parts of being a private renter and ending section 21 would make a dramatic difference and solve this problem – it would also align our policies with other countries.”
The other side of the argument
At the moment, Section 21 notices are a key right of landlords, and can be especially useful for those who need to sell their properties in order to raise extra cash, or for “accidental landlords” who have decided to move back into their property. Removing this right for landlords could leave some in a very difficult financial situation.
While it is important to protect privately renting tenants, who make up a huge proportion of households in the UK, taking away the rights of landlords to regain possession of their own properties could put some off, and lead others to end up in financial strife, which could arguably be worse for tenants in the long run.