Getting Rid of Section 21 Could Actually Increase Homelessness

The government is looking into getting rid of the “Section 21” ground from landlords.

Getting rid of this ground, also sometimes referred to as the “no fault ground”, could, however, lead to a rise in homelessness – hardly the end result that the likes of tenants’ action groups like Generation Rent and Shelter want!

Section 21 is the ground where landlords can give a tenant two months’ notice to leave without having to give tenants a reason.

Actually, 90% of tenancies are ended by a tenant not by a landlord.

Still, it can still be worrying for people that a landlord would only need to give them 2 months’ notice to leave.

There is a government consultation out on this at the moment. The likes of Shelter and Generation Rent are very keen to see Section 21 go.

But eviction specialist firm, Landlord Action are warning that scrapping Section 21 notices could severely impact tenants because it could ultimately lead to a rise in homelessness.

How Scrapping Section 21 Notices Could Increase homelessness

Landlord Action say half the Section 21 cases they handle come about where tenants  are sitting out notice periods and court possession actions because they are wanting to be rehoused by their Council.

The reality is that Section 21 is rarely used where the tenant is not “at fault”. Most landlords actually choose to use Section 21, rather than the Section 8 alternative in cases where they need to evict tenants with over 2 months’ rent arrears.

They do this because the Section 21 route is quicker than Section 8 – because it does not require a court hearing but it usually results in a county court judgement (CCJ) against a tenant.

But if there was no Section 21 and landlords had to use Section 8 instead, a large number of tenants will end up getting a CCJ too and ultimately become homeless, because (as guidance stands at present), councils are not obliged to re-home people with rent arrears judgements.

Having a CCJ will also badly hit a tenant’s credit rating, which will make it harder, if not impossible, to pass referencing tests in the future – whether that’s for social housing or back in the private rented sector.

Rise in Homelessness Not Only Risk

As well as a rise in homelessness, another unintended consequence of an abolition of Section 21 would be that more vulnerable and potentially riskier tenants will struggle to find accommodation as landlords become more selective.

Scottish Experience

It would be interesting to find out whether there has been an increase in homelessness attributable to ending section 21 in Scotland, where it was abandoned 2 years ago. I’m waiting for a response from the Scottish Landlords Association and I will update this blog post when I get that, in due course.

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