Scrapping Section 21 could lead to ‘open-ended tenancies and rent controls’

The government’s plans to scrap Section 21 notices to evict tenants could potentially pave the way for the introduction of open-ended tenancies and rent controls, according to London Assembly member Tom Copley.

The Labour politician is urging the government to press on with plans to outlaw the use of Section 21 eviction notices. 

In a letter to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, Copley said that with more than a quarter of Londoners now renting, more stringent measures should be put in place to prevent tenants being forced to leave rented homes with two months’ notice, without having to provide a reason for the eviction. In July, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched a public consultation on its proposals to scrap the use of section 21 notices.

The MHCLG expects any changes to come into force by late 2020 or early 2021 and have highlighted that this will also be dependent on where other government priorities may take precedence.

But in his letter to the housing secretary, Copley called upon the government to swiftly scrap section 21 now that the consultation has closed. He said this was a “vital first step” towards providing more robust protections for the growing number of private renters.

Copley also wants to see the government take a further step towards sparking wider reform in the PR by following the example of other European countries and introducing open-ended tenancies. Copley said: “The threat of no fault evictions can deter tenants from reporting problems with repairs to their landlords for fear of retaliatory eviction. Abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions is the vital first step in protecting tenants in an often unfair and unforgiving private rented sector.

“There were thousands of no-fault evictions in London last year, but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. So we need to get on with scrapping section 21 without dither or delay.

“We know that the end of a private tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness in the capital. It is clear that the sector needs quite radical reform as a matter of urgency.

“Of course, after abolishing section 21, the government have a golden opportunity to go further and follow the lead of many other European countries by introducing open-ended tenancies and rent controls.”

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