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Khan urges government to hurry up with ban on ‘exploitative’ no-fault evictions

As 300 London renters face Section 21 evictions every week, four years have passed since government pledged to ban them, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan (inset) wants government to ban 'no fault' evictions like they promised (credit Allan Vega via Unsplash)
Sadiq Khan (inset) wants government to ban ‘no fault’ evictions like they promised (credit Allan Vega via Unsplash)

A new City Hall analysis has shown that almost 300 London renters are facing ‘no-fault’ evictions every week, as mayor Sadiq Khan urged the government to ban the practice.

The evictions, known as Section 21 notices, allow landlords to order tenants to leave with a minimum of two months’ warning – without having to prove that the tenant is at fault in any way.

The Conservatives first promised “a better deal for renters”, including a ban on no-fault evictions, in their manifesto ahead of the general election four years ago.

The government has since said it will enforce a ban through its Renters Reform Bill, but concerns have been raised over whether the bill will have time to pass through parliament before the next election.

The bill will receive its second reading in parliament today (Monday 23rd). The scrapping of ‘no fault’ evictions is controversial within the Conservative parliamentary party, and the bill is thought to be unlikely to pass until next year – the same year in which the election is expected.

Researchers at City Hall found that, since the 2019 manifesto promise was made, roughly 290 London renters have faced a Section 21 notice each week.

The figure is based on the number of no-fault eviction letters that have been followed up with a possession claim. City Hall said the true scale of the problem could therefore be worse, as not all Section 21 notices will necessarily reach this stage.

Khan said: “This new analysis is deeply concerning. For too long, landlords have been able to take advantage of exploitative no-fault evictions, which leave renters vulnerable, simply because the government refuses to act.

“It is inexcusable that four years after the government vowed to ban no-fault evictions, so little progress has been made. Ministers must act swiftly to strengthen and pass the Renters Reform Bill to ensure that renters get the legal protections they desperately need and deserve.”

City Hall said the mayor is calling in particular for the government to close any loopholes that would still enable landlords to unfairly evict tenants once Section 21 is removed.

He is also calling for the notice period when tenants are evicted for no fault of their own – such as where the landlord wishes to move into the property – to be extended from two months to four, to allow renters more time to seek advice and plan for their move, and to prevent homelessness.

City Hall’s analysis found that since 2019, a third of all no-fault evictions in England took place in London, up 70% in the last year.

Using data from the first half of this year, City Hall’s researchers said that a further delay of six months to the passing of the bill into law would mean approximately 15,000 more Londoners risk facing a Section 21 eviction.

More than 30 charities, including Shelter, have all welcomed the plan to scrap no-fault evictions – but the proposal has also generated opposition, with some people arguing it will cause landlords to leave the rental sector and potentially worsen the housing crisis.

A recent survey of 1,455 landlords, conducted by insurance provider Simply Business, found that 54% thought the reform will cause landlords to sell up and leave the market.

A spokesperson at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “The Renters Reform Bill will deliver a fairer private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.

“It will abolish ‘no fault’ evictions – giving people more security in their homes and to challenge poor practices – and gives tenants a legal right to request a pet in their home.

“It will also give more protections for landlords to repossess properties where tenants are antisocial, alongside creating a new ombudsman to help resolve issues more quickly.

“We are progressing the bill through parliament with a second reading so we can create a private rented sector that is fit for the 21st Century.”