Habitation Law Central Housing Group

Benefits tenants could be biggest losers if Section 21 is scrapped

Tenants on state benefits could be the ‘biggest casualties’ of the government’s ‘ill-thought-out’ plans to scrap the Section 21 evictions process, according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).

The association’s recent survey of almost 3,000 landlords found that 43% of landlords said they would become more selective when choosing tenants if the government presses ahead with its controversial plans.

Meanwhile, 57% of landlords who had sought to evict a tenant in the past five years had done so because of rent arrears, whether they used Section 21 or not.

The NLA provides further research, a survey of 829 landlords, in which 76% of those who let to Universal Credit tenants, 66% of those who let to Housing Benefits tenants and 63% of those who let to migrant workers, have experienced rent arrears in the last 12 months.

This demonstrates a clear message that people on state benefits would be victims of the plan to abolish Section 21, says the NLA.

The government announced its controversial plans to scrap Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – which gives landlords the power to evict tenants without providing a reason – in April.

It has proposed that landlords instead follow the Section 8 process which requires them to demonstrate that tenants are in breach of their rental agreement when serving notice.

“Rent arrears are the biggest problem that landlords face, and the main reason why they use Section 21 to evict a tenant,” says Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive.

“So if the government removes what they see as their only safety net — Section 21 — they will have no option but to become more selective.”

“That will hit people on Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and other state benefits which have fallen way behind rents,” he says.

“It’s surely not right that the most vulnerable in our society should have to struggle to find accommodation because of the government’s failure to provide landlords with appropriate powers of eviction when faced with rent arrears.”

“We urge the government to think twice before taking this retrograde step.”

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