Section 21 – Liberal Democrats to debate call to scrap landlords’ rights

The Liberal Democrat conference, which begins on Saturday, is to debate a resolution calling for the scrapping of Section 21 – precisely the same as the government is proposing.

The party conference agenda has almost no other reference to housing during its four days of debates but on Tuesday morning, shortly before Jo Swinson’s first speech as party leader, the delegates in Bournemouth will be debating under the subject: “Reforming Housing Legislation – Scrapping Section 21 ‘No Fault Evictions’”.

The resolution reads:

“Conference notes with concern: (i) the growing numbers of people across the UK reliant upon the private rental sector for their homes, including families on low incomes or receiving benefits, single parents, people living with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, older people, and people who are from two or more of these categories.

“(ii) The use of Section 21 of the Housing Act to evict private rental tenants, via a no-fault eviction, where a landlord needs to provide no reason and needs to provide only two months’ notice, leaving the tenant to cover moving an relocation costs irrespective of their circumstances.

“(iii) The impacts that no-fault evictions have on those evicted, who may not have sufficient funds to find new accommodation in the time available, including forcing children to move schools, tearing people away from their friends and communities, and leaving tenants financially compromised and requiring support from the state.

“(iv) The impact that the threat of a no-fault eviction has on tenants who cannot plan their lives when they have no confidence where their home will be in 12 months’ time or are intimidated into not complaining about disrepair or mistreatment.

“(v) The impact that no fault evictions have on local authorities, increasing the numbers of people they must support as a consequence of being forces into homelessness following a S21 eviction.

“Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

“(a) Reform the private rental sector to make it fairer for private renters.

“(b) Provide support for private renters to enable them to safely report health and safety issues in rented properties.

“(c) Support renters by enabling local authorities to create and maintain registers of landlords providing private rental properties for lease.

“Conference calls for~:

“1. The abolition of S21 by reform of the Housing Act 1988.

“2. The reform of court process (as has happened in Scotland) to enable landlords to have easier access to justice in the event that tenants are found to be in breach of their tenancy agreements.

“3. 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.”

Letting Agent Today and Estate Agent Today will be reporting on housing and agency-related issues that come up at the main party conferences over the next three weeks, starting this weekend with a preview of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative conferences.

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