Government accused of ‘abandoning’ plan to scrap no-fault evictions | Politics News

The government has been accused of “abandoning” its pledge to ban no fault evictions by the time of the next general election.

Housing minister Jacob Young sent a letter to Conservative MPs dated 27 March which said the power under Section 21 of the Housing Act would remain in place until an assessment had been made of the legal system to see if it could handle the changes.

A Section 21 order allows landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason for doing so.

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The Conservative 2019 manifesto pledged to abolish the mechanism, and was planning to do so through the Renters Reform Bill.

There had already been indications the government intended to water down its promise from Housing Secretary Michael Gove, but this development marks the confirmation that legislation will be changed.

But the letter sent by Mr Young said: “The government has been clear that Section 21 will be abolished when the courts are ready, and is taking significant steps to deliver court improvement, including providing £1.2m for court digitisation.

“We will now, however, bring forward an amendment at Commons report [stage] to require the lord chancellor to publish an assessment on barriers to possession and the readiness of the courts in advance of abolishing Section 21 for existing tenancies.”

The campaign group, Renters Reform Coalition, said the changes announced this week represent “major concessions to landlords” – and said Mr Gove was “abandoning the promise” made to end Section 21s by the next election.

Jacob Young MP. Pic: Parliament

Mr Young also wrote that a new amendment would be proposed which would prevent tenants ending contracts in the first six months – although government is “considering exemptions” – like death or domestic abuse.

He said this “will ensure landlords can rely on a letting period that covers costs of finding tenants and making repairs between tenancies, and prevents tenants using rented properties as short-term lets”.

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Changes have also been proposed to allow landlords renting to students to ensure they can match tenancy to the academic year.

Tom Darling, Campaign Manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition, commented: “So now we see the price the government has paid in their Faustian bargain with the landlord lobby.

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“Selling renters down the river with concessions that will put off the vast majority of renters from feeling the benefits of these reforms indefinitely, promising to reduce the burdens on landlords to meet licensing standards, and locking tenants in unsafe and unsuitable housing.

“The government’s flagship legislation to help renters is fast becoming a Landlord’s Charter – watch as landlord groups today declare victory now having exacted a significant toll on this policy in exchange for their support.”

Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The government has a mandate to end Section 21 repossessions. Our focus has been on ensuring that the replacement system works, and is fair, to both tenants and responsible landlords.

“The changes being proposed would achieve this balance.

“Ministers now need to crack on to ensure the bill can proceed with the scrutiny it deserves.”

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Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove have chosen once again to put the interests of party management ahead of what is right for the British people.

“After years of delay, private renters have every right to be furious at the watering down of the vital protections the Tories promised them.”

Sky News has approached the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for comment.


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