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Top London politicians call for scrapping of S21 eviction powers

Two senior London politicians are backing a campaign to scrap the powers of agents and landlords to evict tenants under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998.

Sian Berry, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, and Labour assembly member Tom Copley got a motion through the assembly claiming that S21 ‘no fault’ evictions caused insecurity and stress for tenants and could discourage them from complaining about sub-standard conditions.

Now the pair want London Mayor Sadiq Khan to back the campaign to abolish S21 and lobby the government for a change in the law.

“The Assembly has firmly put its weight behind Generation Rent’s campaign to end S21. London renters need to feel secure in their homes and know they can’t be thrown out on the streets for no reason” says Berry. 


“I’ve known far too many friends and colleagues forced to move out of their homes at really short notice at times when they would least choose to move. Having to move at short notice is one of the worst parts of being a private renter and ending S21 would make a dramatic difference and solve this problem” she claims. 

Meanwhile Labour’s Copley says: “Our tenancy laws were introduced 30 years ago when only one in 10 Londoners rented from a private landlord. Now more than a quarter of us do, including increasing numbers of families with children.

"It is unacceptable that landlords can use S21 to evict tenants for no reason. Private tenants deserve security to protect them from arbitrary or revenge eviction, the fear of which makes tenants reluctant to come forward to complain about substandard housing.

"The government has just announced a consultation on three year private tenancies, but this will be meaningless unless no fault eviction is abolished. I hope the Mayor will use this consultation to urge the government to abolish S21 eviction."

The full text of the motion is: 

“This Assembly welcomes the campaign to end section 21 – the clause of the Housing Act 1988 that allows private landlords to evict tenants without reason. We acknowledge that the threat of a no-fault eviction causes insecurity and stress for Londoners who rent privately and can discourage tenants from complaining about substandard housing. We welcome the action taken by the Scottish government to restrict no-fault evictions. We urge the Mayor to state his backing for the campaign to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and to lobby government for this change in the law.”

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    So - 'it causes stress to LONDONERS...................' Does it stress nobody else then? Typical MP idea not given any thought or consideration as to why it was introduced in the first place.

  • Angus Shield

    OK, so I understand the reasoning is to prevent 'no-fault' evictions. However:

    1. Will this apply to the Form 6?
    2. What instrument would be used for 'defaulting' tenancies?
    3. What instrument would be used for genuine need to recover a let property such as death, sale, return to property, etc?
    4. Would AST’s require appropriate terms to enact a recovery?

    There's enough to worry about here in Salisbury without another 'headlining' idea without full explanation!


    Angus! Ha! You do realise that whole poisoning issue wasn’t the Russians at all, right? It was quite clearly a disgruntled private landlord having an issue with his tenants! After all, we’re blamed for every other kind of misdemeanour, may as well be this as well.

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    Typical of a politician trying to appeal to voters while not having thought out how such an idea would work if put into practice. This would result in even less investment in buy to let from private Landlords. I hope they have also thought of a back up plan to supply the shortfall in rental stock if their idea was put into practice.

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    Two months is not quite really short notice.
    And how about 'it is my property and for reasons personal to myself I need (or want) to sell it'

  • Barry X

    I posted a long, carefully written comment here about how introducing the s.21 process in the first place in the Housing Act 1988 was what revolutionised the private rental sector but it vanished for some reason when I clicked the "comment" button to send it.... oh well, I can't be bothered to type it all again.

    Briefly, before the s.21 was possible ALL tenants were in effect "sitting tenants" ("Statutory Tenants") and the properties they lived in were worth typically 1/2 to just 1/3 of their vacant open market value, i.e. what they'd be worth with no tenants living in them who could not be asked to leave. Such properties were virtually un-mortgageable.

    In recent years the s.21 process has been under increasing threat and steadily undermined a piece at a time (as has the entire private rental sector that to an extent depends on it).

    If anything, one of the best things the government could do (apart from repealing Osborne's dreadful and damaging 3% surcharge, and reinstating full tax relief for loan interest etc) would be to make it EASIER, not harder/impossible, to regain possession of properties if/when required. Most landlords bought the property to rent it out and if the tenant behaves and pays rent that's all they want. The s.21 is the "safety mechanism" for when there's a problem with the tenant but its too hard to prove or unlikely to succeed as a s.8 eviction, OR if the landlord's financial circumstances or plans change and s/he wishes/needs to sell.

    It's the landlord's property and the landlord should/MUST be able to regain possession on reasonable notice if/when required.

    Let's not return to "retro" tenancies based on the hopelessly flawed ideas of 1950s socialists!

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    Ok lease the house 2 years lease up leave!!

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    Landlords like nothing more than to have tenants stay for years, as long as they pay the rent and treat the property and the neighbours.with respect.

    Before section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, private tenants could have tenancies for life. This, coupled with Rent Control from 1915 is what made the PRS shrink from housing 76% of households in England in 1918 to just 9.1% in 1988. Section 21 was introduced to give landlords the right to recover their property. This remedy worked. so that the percentage rose to 10.1 in 1996.

    From 1996 to 2013, the total number of dwellings in England increased steadily from 20.3 million in 1996 to 23.3 million in 2013. Much of this was due to the notable growth in private rented housing which more than doubled in size from 2.0 million to 4.5 million over this period.

    Landlords did this by financing new builds, by rehabilitating run-down properties or by converting large residential or commercial buildings into flats or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

    Generation Rent owes BTL a debt of gratitude for this. Instead they vilify landlords because they have been indoctrinated against BTL by a number of ignorant people, some of whom get articles published in the Guardian and the Times.

    The abolition of Section 21 would reduce the supply of rental accommodation and make homelessness worse. It would drive landlords out of the market and deter others from entering it, so that the stock of rental accommodation, already in short supply in some areas, would fall further while the population continues to increase. This would make rents rise even more, to the detriment of the tenants that the “senior London politicians” claim to represent.

    It would also cause an increase in evictions as landlords leave.

    Sian Berry, Tom Copley and Generation Rent are campaigning to reduce supply and increase rents. Brilliant


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