In a surprise move from a government full of landlords, the tories have announced it's planning to end so-called "no fault evictions," whereby landlords kick people out essentially because they feel like it.
According to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire (whose last name is our preferred name for Britain right now), Section 21 eviction notices are one of the main causes of homeless families. The notices allow landlords to kick tenants out for any reason – or no reason – when their fixed-term tenancy has finished and they move onto a rolling contract.
The evictions are apparently often used as punishment for complaining about crappy housing. A Citizens Advice survey showed that tenants who exercised their rights to make a formal complaint about substandard housing had a whopping 46% chance of being kicked out of their home in the following six months. Under Section 21, the landlord doesn't have to give a great deal of notice either – eight weeks isn't a whole lot of time to find a new family home you can afford and get everything in place to move, especially when you don't get your deposit back until long after you've paid the new one.
If you're thinking "OK, but landlords will just make up a bullshit reason to kick people out," the plans somewhat account for that – the reason given has to be "concrete" and "evidenced" with a basis in law. So presumably Moneybags McKenzie can't just be like "they stubbed out cigarettes on the carpet" without a shred of proof.
The new plans are for England, but Wales' First Minister has announced there'll be a similar move there, and Scotland has required a reason to kick people out for two years now. Sadly for renters in Northern Ireland, no plans have been announced for that part of the country.
Landlords are unsurprisingly not thrilled about the new proposals. The National Landlords Association (NLA) says landlords use Section 21 because they don't have "confidence" in the courts to kick their tenants out if they break the terms of their contract, but that's what the Section 8 legislation is for.
Admittedly, it can be costly for landlords if the tenants dig their heels in and won't leave, but for the most part the power is on the landlord's side. This is people's literal homes we're talking about, owned by people who have enough privilege to not only own their own home but someone else's too.
Amina Gichinga from the London Renters Union comments:
"This campaign success is a vital first step to ending profiteering from housing and towards a housing model based on homes for people, not profit.
Section 21 is a pernicious piece of legislation that renters across the country will be glad to see the back of.
The law allows landlords to evict their tenants at a moment's notice, leaving misery and homelessness in its wake. This fear of eviction discourages renters from complaining about disrepair and poor conditions."
Polly Neate, Chief Exec of housing charity Shelter, pithily adds:
"Government plans to abolish no-fault evictions represent an outstanding victory for England's 11 million private renters."
More of this sort of thing, please. [BBC]