What does the abolition of section 21 mean for tenants?

In a major overhaul of the private rented sector the government has announced plans to prevent landlords from evicting tenants at short notice without good reason for doing so.

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The abolition of section 21 will come as welcome news for tenants and campaigners who have fought hard to protect the rights of those living in rented accommodation.

A survey of private renters by Citizens Advice suggested that tenants who made a formal complaint had a 46% chance of being evicted.

Under proposed plans, landlords would have to provide concrete evidence when attempting to terminate tenancies, effectively removing the practice of no-fault repossessions in the private rental sector.

So, how will the abolition of section 21 impact landlords and tenants, and what precedent does it set for the UK property market?

How will this affect landlords?

Do the benefits extend to landlords themselves? After all, there are many cases when a landlord might justifiably seek to evict a tenant – whether this for rent arrears, antisocial behaviour, or simply because they’re looking to sell the property.

This move might make it difficult for landlords to repossess their property, and essentially create a way for renters to enjoy indefinite tenancies.

These concerns can largely be put to rest, however, if the government offers some reassurances that landlords will have the ability to get their properties back if, and when, they’re needed.

At the same time, this change is also set to benefit landlords by encouraging longer-term tenancies.

According to research by Shelter, one in three landlords are positive about longer tenancies – on the one hand, it would limit the costly void periods experienced when searching for new tenants.

On the other hand, it could encourage tenants to look after the property better and treat it like their own home; ultimately strengthening the landlord-tenant relationship.

Challenges faced by tenants

Scrapping Section 21 is undoubtedly good news for the country’s many renters – almost 5.8 million households are expected to be privately rented by the end of 2021.

For one, it aims to restore the balance of power between tenants and landlords, giving the former the confidence to raise complaints about unsafe or substandard conditions and dispute unfair treatment.

However, there are still a number of challenges facing tenants; namely, the difficulty of moving from renting to owning a property.

So, while this move offers tenants some security, it does not ultimately support their ability to jump on the property ladder themselves.

Today, young people struggle to afford their own home.

According to government figures, only 34% of households led by a 16 to 34-year-old were owner-occupiers in 2016 – compared with 54% in 1996.

These findings reflect the systematic challenges facing renters attempting to jump onto the property ladder.

Yet this experience is not just confined to millennials; the proportion of 35 to 54-year-olds who live as private tenants has nearly doubled since 2006-07.

Looking ahead

Make no mistake about it, the abolition of this section 21 practice is a major breakthrough when it comes to promoting better practices in the UK property market.

It will build greater transparency between landlords and tenants, while also providing more stability in the rental market.

But there is still plenty more that can be done to help build great transparency between landlords and their tenants, not to mention the broader challenges concerning affordability.

Let’s hope the government builds on this momentum over the coming months with similar progressive reforms.

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