Citizens Advice is warning that banning Section 21 evictions will only improve renters rights if forthcoming legislation prevents backdoor ‘no fault’ evictions from taking place.
The charity helped almost 2,000 people with Section 21 issues in May, the most in a single month on record and a 25% increase since May 2022.
To date, 2023 has been a record year for people coming to Citizens Advice for help after being served a Section 21 notice, with a 9% increase in demand for support in the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year.
The Renters Reform Bill promises to ban Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions but Citizens Advice is raising the alarm that new eviction grounds, along with excessive rent increases, could still be used by landlords to unfairly force tenants out of their homes.
New grounds in the Renters Reform Bill will allow landlords to evict tenants just six months into a tenancy if they wish to sell a property or move family in. Citizens Advice’s research found 48% of renters who have experienced an eviction had been told their landlord wanted to sell up. But worryingly, the new rules won’t require landlords to give evidence they have followed through on this once a tenant has left.
Citizens Advice is also warning landlords may use excessive rent increases as a way of forcing tenants out. Last year, 1.8 million households either had their rent increased or were threatened with an increase, with 300,000 renters forced out of their home by a rent increase.
The charity found less than 10% of renters who challenged a rent increase from their landlord were successful, with options for tenants limited and often inaccessible.
Citizens Advice is urging the government to close these loopholes in the Renters Reform Bill to give tenants the promised greater protection and security. It is also calling for the length of time new tenants are protected from ‘no fault’ grounds for eviction to be increased from six months to two years.
And, for steps to be put in place to ensure landlords who claim to need to sell a property can’t rapidly re-let it.
Matthew Upton, Acting Executive Director of Policy and Advocacy at of Citizens Advice, said “Our advisers are increasingly hearing from renters who are being forced to uproot their entire lives after receiving a Section 21 notice. For too long, renters have lived in precarious situations with few protections while landlords have held all the cards.”
“Reforms to the private rental sector are welcome but they’re open to abuse from unscrupulous landlords. The government must ensure reforms are watertight and not include loopholes which allow Section 21 evictions to continue by the backdoor.”