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Calls Intensify for Immediate Ban on Section 21 Evictions

Recent government data reveals that the use of Section 21 eviction notices has surged, contributing significantly to homelessness rates across the UK. This uptick comes as the deadline for banning these notices approaches, sparking a debate on the urgency of reform.

Record Levels of Eviction Notices
According to the latest quarterly homelessness figures, the number of people served with Section 21 notices and subsequently seeking help from local authorities reached a record high of 25,910 in 2023. The last quarter of the year alone saw an 11% increase in such cases. The Renters Reform Coalition has responded to these figures by calling for an immediate ban on Section 21 evictions, criticizing delays for court system improvements.

Tom Darling, Campaign Manager at the Renters Reform Coalition, stated, “Shockingly, homelessness statistics in England continue to see new records shattered every few months. Every week sees more families evicted and growing pressure on the budgets of councils struggling to meet the rising cost of homelessness support.” He advocates for swift legislative action to prevent further displacement of tenants.

Debate Over the Impact of Section 21
While there is a push to abolish Section 21, some commentators and MPs argue that this will not address the underlying reasons landlords may need to evict tenants, such as the necessity to sell properties or address rental arrears. They contend that removing Section 21 will merely complicate and increase the costs of evictions through other means, such as Section 8 notices.

Despite these eviction figures hitting record levels, those evicted via Section 21 represent only 16% of individuals who are judged by local councils to be owed a prevention duty. Among those who are already homeless and in need of council accommodation, the ending of private rental sector (PRS) tenancies remains the most common reason for losing their homes.

The Impact of Market Uncertainty
The ongoing debate and the looming ban are also causing uncertainty in the rental market. Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action noted the negative impacts of this uncertainty: “It’s important to recognise that the uncertainty surrounding the future of Section 21 has already led many landlords to sell their properties.” He argues that this trend reduces the availability of rental properties, increasing competition and potentially driving up rents.

Shamplina highlighted the need for clear and timely court reforms to reassure both landlords and tenants and maintain a healthy rental market. “In this context, a clear commitment to timely court reforms is not only crucial for landlords’ peace of mind but also for maintaining a healthy rental market that serves the needs of both landlords and tenants,” he concluded.

As the discussion continues, the fate of Section 21 and its impact on both landlords and tenants remains a central issue in shaping the future of the UK’s housing policies.