Banning Section 21:
Following Labour’s example, the Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their conference which would result in the scrapping of the Section 21, the “no fault, no blame” eviction process, if they ever came to power, or have any influence in a coalition, after the next general election.
Removing Section 21 is currently under review by the Conservative government, and it is also the policy of any incoming Labour government.
The Liberal Democrat members’ vote for the policy, which has been mooted within the party for some time, was by an overwhelming majority.
The Conference commitment on Section 21 and other private rented sector (PRS) reforms by the Liberal Democrats was to:
Reform the private rental market generally to make it fairer for private renters.
Provide support for private renters to enable them to safely report health and safety issues in rented properties.
Support renters by enabling local authorities to create and maintain registers of landlords providing private rental properties for lease.
The Conference specifically called for:
- The abolition of S21 by reforming of the Housing Act 1988.
- The reform of court process (as has happened in Scotland) to enable landlords to have easier access to justice if tenants are found to be in breach of their tenancy agreements.
- Further work to be undertaken with tenant and landlord organisations and groups to explore the opportunities for further reform and improvement of the private rental sector, such as revising the current assured short-hold tenancy legislation to encourage the use of long-term tenancies as a standard.
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government commented on the proposals saying:
“People in this country are demanding a safe, secure home to live in. Yet the Tories have failed to fulfil their promises to end “no fault evictions” leaving many at the mercy on unscrupulous landlords. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“That’s why it’s fantastic that Liberal Democrats have passed this motion. It is vital that the private rented market is made fairer for renters, while we have a duty to support landlords who are doing the right thing too.
“We cannot stand by while tenants are turfed out of their homes through no fault of their own – that’s why we’re demanding that this Tory government do what they’ve said they will. And if they don’t, they should make way for a party who would.”
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark has since responded by saying:
“The vote at the Liberal Democrat Conference is another attack on the private rental sector and landlords operating within it.
“The effects of the tenant fees ban have not yet been felt, and yet more proposed legislation could deter landlords from operating in the market. Although in the majority of cases there is no need for Section 21 to be used, there are times when a landlord has no choice but to take action and evict tenants from a property.
“The proposed commitment will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing in buy-to-let properties. This comes at a time when demand is dramatically outpacing supply, and rent costs are rising.
“ARLA Propertymark will be engaging with the Liberal Democrats to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes, and all changes are based on evidence, so landlords have the ability to regain their properties if needed.”
The ongoing Section 21 consultation
ARLA Propertymark is urging its members to respond to the current UK Governments, “A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants”, consultation, which is seeking views on implementing the Government’s views on removing Section 21 and improving Section 8 eviction grounds.