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S21 abolition is less damaging than landlords fear - claim

A third of landlords say that the scrapping of Section 21 is of major concern to them according to a Mortgages for Business survey. 

Under government plans, landlords are set to lose the right to evict tenants at short notice without giving a good reason for doing so.  

Until now landlords have been able to use Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act to evict renters after the end of a fixed term tenancy, with two months’ notice.


Government plans will effectively create open-ended tenancies whereby landlords will have to give a reason for eviction — such as rent arrears or antisocial behaviour — as well as include evidence of the tenant’s shortcomings.

“Fears surrounding the scrapping of Section 21 are a driving force behind landlords not remortgaging and selling-up instead” says Gavin Richardson, the managing director of Mortgages for Business.

In future all tenancies will be assured tenancies that will continue indefinitely unless ended by one of the new Section 8 grounds for possession. These include if the landlord wants to sell the property (or move into it) or if there has been a breach of the tenancy by the tenant.

But Richardson says landlords had less to fear from reform of Section 21 than they realised.  

“Section 21 notices have been abused for years.  They have been used as a vehicle for ‘revenge evictions’, for instance, where renters who have complained about their property are evicted in retaliation.

“I don’t think the reforms will prove to be that bad.  First, tenants didn’t have to do anything wrong to justify a Section 21 notice — they could have been paying the rent on time and taking good care of the property.  Sensible landlords rarely turf out good tenants who pay their rent as they want them to stick around.  So this reform will disproportionately hit bad landlords abusing Section 21, rather than the reputable end of the market.

“Second, tenancies can still be ended if there has been a breach of the tenancy by the tenant.  Furthermore, the government has said it will introduce a new ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords without the need to go to court — and speed up court processes where possession cases require them.  The government has also promised to digitise the courts’ agenda ahead of these reforms to ensure a swift resolution to these cases.

“Third, owners will be able to end a tenancy if they plan to move back in or sell it — that was the real danger of this reform, anything that inadvertently risked landlords’ ability to realise the value of their housing assets through disposal.”

He continues: “The loss of full tax relief on mortgage interest payments for individual landlords, the stamp duty surcharge on additional property property purchases, and the need to ensure properties meet energy efficiency rules expected to apply from 2025 are all far more significant for landlords.

“You’d never guess that from the government rhetoric though.  

“For instance, I don’t think for a moment that Section 21 exacerbated homelessness as one Tory communities secretary  claimed.  

“The politicians are irresponsibly trying to curry favour with tenants: the country will suffer as the private rented sector — with its efficient use of property stock — dries up.  The government needs to stop trying to gain cheap brownie points by taking a pop at the private rented sector and needlessly spooking landlords.  It is the reason the government has lost the confidence of responsible landlords.”

Mortgages for Business’ research found that the chief concern of landlords was higher mortgage rates(a concern of 63 per cent of landlords) followed by Section 21 reform and EPC regulations and tax(both a concern of 32 per cent of landlords).   

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  • icon

    “Second, tenancies can still be ended if there has been a breach of the tenancy by the tenant. Furthermore, the government has said it will introduce a new ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords without the need to go to court”.

    Try proving a breach of contract. My tenants have broken 4 window handles and 3 door handles. Just as some examples. Try proving that the handles weren’t faulty beforehand. Try finding a receipt for handles that was on the property when you bought it etc. Try proving how old the handles were. Proof. You want to have the burden of proof on you against all these lefty lawyers, judges and politicians? The only thing you can reliably prove is late payment which no one cares about and non-payment. I can’t see how landlords are safe otherwise unless S21 stays. And the ombudsman? Who’s he going to favour everytime. 'EVERYTIME'?

    I’ve had mould at the property. The problem gets put on the landlord straightaway. No proof required. No one is in the house monitoring all the wet washing and closed windows.

    Same as antisocial behaviour. Neighbours and police won’t get involved.

    No. Losing S21 is a massive problem. I’m not prepared to lose it. Sure divert discussion on interest rates (S24) and EPCs. They are all genuine problems too. All bought about by the Tories. Can or will they fix it? No it’s not a political priority. Labour will be even worse.

    Think I’ll concentrate on my pension instead. No one says thanks to me on that of course but no one says thanks to me as a landlord either. Especially not the tenants, the government of the so called housing 'charities'. Returns will be better and it’s easier to sleep at night. Not waiting for another f*****g unnecessary problem from either the government or the tenant to deal with.


    Well said Nick

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    EVIDENCE 👎🏻 That will be needed for ASB evictions, simple as, and that will only come via the courts, it will get very hard to evict any bad tenant, if you have one now then get rid of them before it’s too late. My current tenants will be my very last.

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    Abolishing Section 21 is not as bad as landlords think, it’s far worse.
    Why do it and its the foundation of all Private letting’s before which there wasn’t any.
    I know I was there as a landlord, people living my property calling all the shots.
    Telling me they can do what they like and nothing you can do about it.
    I doubt if Yvonne Fletcher hadn’t go shot in 1984 I wouldn’t have got rid of them too easily either, no S.21 let’s go back there again.
    Do you still not get that.
    Ok yet you are determined to go back there again.
    Enjoy the Collapse and get yourself a job in Mr Gove’s levelling Department where no responsibilities are required.
    Why are they complaining about the homeless crisis that they are deliberately causing.

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    Whether losing S21 will be as bad as LLs think is almost irrelevant - the damage will have been done as thousands of properties are lost from the PRS. Many LLs are not prepared to wait & see, particularly in relation to whether S8 gets 'beefed up'.

    Every day there are stories in the news of tenants unable to find a home because of lack of availability & high rents. The damage has already been done & unless the Govt does something to reverse the outflow of LLs, its going to get worse.


    Tricia, I doubt very much that the government will do anything to reverse the flow... They seem hell bent on crushing the PRS. It doesn't make sense really but I'm sick of trying to make sense of it all... I'm selling up. It's definitely not going to improve for landlords.

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    I am in a civil court battle with a letting agent, it's gone on for years, the courts are very unsympathetic, even though it is a straightforward case of fraud. !!

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    This sounds like the bleating of a man seeing a large percentage of his client base waving bye bye! He says “Section 21 notices have been abused for years. - I am sure a few dodgy landlords gave done it but the damage done by those landlords is nothing compared to the hardship that will be caused to tenants when they sadly lose their homes as Landlirds sell up and cannot get another rental due to lack of prs stock!


    Wasn't it Lettings Agents who were especially keen on issuing Section 21s before the tenant fees ban? All those lovely fees from both tenants and landlords were a pretty powerful incentive for the Agent to create as much churn as possible.

    I don't think landlords have ever randomly evicted good tenants for no reason.

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    So, of all the experts saying it isn't going to be a problem, how many of them actually own any rental properties? It's easy to be glib about things that aren't actually going to affect you personally. I'm guessing most of those telling us to calm down are letting agents and others who will lose business when we all sell up.

  •  G romit

    "S21 abolition is less damaging than landlords fear"

    ....says someone who isn't a Landlord and not had to deal with a rogue tenant.

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    Catherine. Correct they won’t find some where to rent without paying a lot more.
    They can rent in the new modular development concept in Greeford Quay’s, UB6, for only £2’200.00 pm plus the additional charges for a one Bed Flat, Alternatively they could have been renting a Five Bed House from me with garden & parking for same money in UB6 but that’s about to change I can tell you.

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    Gavin Richardson absolutely should know better. Must think landlords are stupid if he thinks they’ll swallow this tosh.

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    In the 25+ years I've been a landlord I've never needed to evict anyone. It's nice to know I could but I never actually have.
    I have handed out a few Section 21 notices mainly as warning shots. They are incredibly useful in helping to get other creditors to back off so someone can get their finances back on track and actually retain their home.

    My main concern is that Section 8 isn't fully fit for purpose. As others have said the evidence required is often hard to obtain, especially where ASB is concerned. Fear of reprisals makes it almost impossible to get statements from neighbours who are being terrorised.

    I know some of you don't like the idea of my suggestion but I would favour beefing up Section 8 so it properly encompasses all at fault tenants and retaining Section 21 with the requirement that blameless, fully complying tenants get two months rent as compensation for being evicted. Why should a good tenant be out of pocket because we have suddenly decided to have a change of direction? Wouldn't such a system prove just how rarely perfect tenants get evicted?


    It is a kind thought, Jo, to give blameless tenants two months rent free, but I don't think it would work. It is the most anti-social tenants who have driven everyone mad who would simply be most likely to not pay the last two months rent. You would have to prove in court that they hadn't been good tenants and that would be very hard.

    The terms of the contract need to be respected with regard to rent or landlords would just raise rent to factor in losing two months rent when they want their property back.


    Ellie - what I am proposing is they get the 2 months refunded along with their deposit within 10 days of vacating the property. I imagine Local Authorities would come up with short term funding to bridge the few weeks between paying a new deposit and holding fee and receiving the money from the previous landlord. It would certainly be cheaper for LAs than the current way.
    If they've breached the tenancy agreement or not paid the last 2 months rent they would be evicted under Section 8 with no compensation due.
    From a landlords perspective Section 8 is stressful, long-winded and even if the Court awards a repayment order what is the likelihood of the landlord getting the money? So essentially it usually costs to get rid of a bad tenant.
    Overall it would give tenants more incentive to comply with the tenancy agreement and prioritise paying their rent on time while at the same time meaning genuinely blameless tenants don't suddenly find themselves having to find a big lump of money for an unwanted, expected move.
    Obviously most tenancies would still end of their own accord anyway. No tenant is going to stay in a property for maybe 20 years just waiting for the day the landlord wants to sell up and retire.


    Your suggestion is reasonable logic but
    1. Section 21 should not be removed until section 8 is adequate and fast. Removing section 21 and promising improvements down the line - well we all know how much weight a politicians promise carries.
    2. Does anybody really believe the courts system will be improved to the point you'd be confident of proving a tenant is anti-social, or proving their damages to your property are beyond wear and tear?
    3. If we were to give 2 months free for a tenant to move - there would be plenty who would game the system, and even start causing trouble in the hope you'd ask them to move on so they could get their 2 months free. It absolutely would get exploited.

    If you own the property I believe you should be able to get it back without winning an argument in court. I would say that 2 months is not a lot of time and feel it would be reasonable to lengthen the notice period to say, 4 months.


    The compensation idea wouldn't work at all, Jo, for the many landlords who don't provide indefinite tenancies to people wanting permanent accommodation. Personally, I let my flats to people who want fixed term short or medium term accommodation and are self-funding. There is a mutual understanding that they don't want to stay indefinitely and that I don't let indefinitely. In my opinion, the private rental sector is not the place for people wanting a permanent home. I provide a different service for a different category of people. I am not a social housing provider, but your idea could be OK for the social housing sector, perhaps.


    Well said Ellie.

    I wouldn't mind compensation to a tenant if there after many years. Not too much though. And again rents would need to increase to fund it so what's the point. The properties are mine and I want them back when I want them back. Especially when for maintenance work the government expect you to do with the Decent Homes thing etc.

    In reality I think tenants would game the system to make you pay them to go. Although with a lack of properties available that may negate their ability.

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    Jo, how about some compensation for landlords from tenants who leave at the end of their tenancy . Until the market tightened up tenants used to last two years and went when they realised they couldn't turn you over !

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    What I do not understand is why 'politicians are trying to curry favour with tenants'


    Lots more tenants than landlords, so more votes to chase.

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    In over 30 yrs the only time I've used sec 21 is to evict non paying tenants, simply because it was easier and quicker than sec 8

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    In Scotland, there have been NO winners in outlawing fixed term tenancies.

    Families are now less desirable tenants than young professionals and students as these groups won't stay indefinitely and rents can be put back up to market rates on every new tenancy instead of being capped at 3 %.

    Landlords can't plan ahead because only 28 days notice is now required, so flats which previously doubled as summer tourist lets and winter student flats are now full-time short term rentals, reducing the stock of normal rental properties even further.

    Maintenance and refurbishment can't be planned ahead because of the 28 days notice provision and shortage of tradesmen at short notice.

    How can it be wrong for consenting adults to agree to a mutually convenient fixed term tenancy contract?

    I thought nowadays, for consenting adults anything goes?

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    The whole business around Sec 21 was driven by Shelter & Gen Rent. Their exaggerated claims, poor biased research, and their political blindness toward the far greater scale of evictions in the SRS led to the PRS taking this poisonous wrap.
    There is always a ‘ reason ‘ for using sec 21 and it is almost never based on retaliatory factors, loosing a tenant is ‘bad business’ and drives a huge juggernaut through any landlords cash flow. Eviction is and always has been, an absolute last resort for all but a handful of the U.K. 2.4 million landlords.
    Above all the abolition of Sec 21 is a ‘colossal poorly founded over reaction’ that has compounded the wide mistrust of Gov and is now driving a significant landlord exodus.

  • icon

    I don’t have your confidence in voting system which is why I have given up on voting, although I am legally required to register.
    It makes little difference who is the face of Politics behind the scenes the same weedy civil servants with be there running the show.
    Voting should be compulsory and everyone have their say.
    When the minority rules the roost with a few portable cabins dropped on the grass verges occasionally it’s hardly democracy, they have no mandate.

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    I have evicted just 4 tenants in 41 years, all were evicted under section 21 my reason in each case was rent arrears. The court application/ experience in each case was full of ‘trip wires’ and the process costly and stressful. Only one of the evicted tenants actually repaid their rent debt.
    Now, with the loss of Sec 21 the burden of proof and doubtless the application process itself is almost certain to be even more complicated and pro tenant. The business of being a landlord is becoming more and more untenable on an almost daily basis.

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    The owner should be able to get his property back for whatever reason or no reason Its his property he bought it.
    There’s a clear distinction between buying and renting, if they a renting they are not buying so now we are expected to justify ourselves to the Tenants why we want our own property back, you are having a laugh.
    We didn’t need their permission to buy the property,
    while we put our neck on the block for hundreds of thousands of £’s sink or swim but now it’s ok for them to control us.
    Suppose you rent a car its renting not buying you have to give it back, The rental Company don’t have to justify themselves to the person renting the car why they should get it back, some nonsense going on.


    The trouble is it's not a car. Politicians and businesses like Shelter are all about bouncing around words and phrases like families, children, homeless, Christmas, cost of living crisis, ends meet, unfair, 'no-fault' when referring to peoples' homes. They don't see it as renting a house and giving it back. They see it as an owner letting someone else into their property, and you need a bloody good reason to get them out. If you can prove it. Which of course in many cases you will not be able to.

    I've just been through the retaliatory eviction scenario. The tenants are a PITA. I had to put the house on the market (in a state) just as a precaution to overcome the rules where as quick as a repair was cleared another one was reported immediately.

    I agree with you. But the governments over the last 40 years have been busy giving away social housing with right to buy. They don't build any new housing themselves as far as I'm aware. The 'affordable' housing they get out of developers is now set to reduce I believe due to Gove sticking all of the cladding crisis onto developers who will raise prices / reduce the affordable contribution to pay for it. Money doesn't grow on trees unless you are a politician.

  • George Dawes

    So why abolish it then ?

  • David Saunders

    The writer of the article seems on a par with that gormless git Gove who you wouldn't trust to run a bath let alone a government department but when the sxxt hits the fan, homeless figures go into orbit whilst PRS all but disappears, he'll no doubt be off to the jungle with the best part of £500k in his pocket.

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    What about if the tenant pays their rent but is horrific to manage. Abusive, damages the property, complains about repairs but doesn’t let the contractor in as it’s not convenient.
    You have no option but to move back into the property or sell and pay exorbitant taxes. This is no different to being in an abusive marriage. What about our well-being? It doesn’t count

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    A cheap marketing publication. who says Sec 21 has been abused ( for years ) If Govt wanted to research the reasons for sec 21, they could have had a trial ( optional, - no impact of the process ) question on the N5b asking why it was being used.

    Majority of answers would be rent arrears and ASB.

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    Section 21 is the basis of all private letting before which there wasn’t any.
    This is the one and only protecting the owners / landlords / investors have ultimately over their property,
    not withstanding it’s only a fragment of the S.21 introduced in the 1988 Act and have been chipped away at by Shelter the pushers of the 2015 De-Regulation when they failed at pushing Sarah Tether’s private member’s Bill, Generation and other anti Tenants organisation, none of which houses any Tenants but despise landlords that house 9 million of them from all walks of life, self financing off their own backs.
    Making enormous contribution to the Inland Revenue that is 2.5 million landlords many of whom are higher tax rate payers.
    What as some of those anti Tenant groups pretending to be their friends have Charity Status that cause homelessness and the biggest cause of high Rents driving out Private landlords who provides a dedicated fantastic hands on service that corporate landlords will never equal.

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    Don't forget Vat. It adds quite a lot to the rent if the tenants move frequently. They used to move every 2 years until we had this tsunami of immigration.

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    Nick my friend I see Shelter only as a Charity that don’t house people, yet have been invited into The Parliamentary Select Committee to shape Government Policy on Renting, imagine that they don’t do letting and have no Elected Representation so why are they even involved in the process, landlords are not even asked not alone Represented.
    It’s not a car but it’s still Private Property whether Freehold/ leasehold, bought or Built it not someone else’s Property.
    Just because they Rent don’t pass ownership to them why is it now making it as that should be the case.
    I will never accept its their home while renting it, it has to be given back.
    The Media loves peddling this phraseology, if this was to be the case who would buy and Sales collapse.


    I agree with you. This is my thinking too. I'm just saying above all of these other parties who have no stake in our property whatsoever all think that they can take control of it.

  • jeremy clarke

    The issue is not necessarily the abolition of Section 21 although the possibility is scaring many landlords away, the issue is landlords feeling that they are losing control of their own properties.
    I see the major hurdle as the net zero brigade pushing to reduce EPC in rental properties to a c rating, this will cause more landlords more problems than the removal of S21.


    Losing S21 is losing control. I think I can deal with EPC grade C maybe. But losing my properties is a no go area altogether.

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    Jeremy, for me the issue is removing Section 21, other issues like licensing Schemes can be as bad as EPC’s costing thousands for people who haven’t done it don’t know and have to repeat on going, apart from initial costs in say properties like 1940’s or older or even newer to 1970’s need so much updating. Change all the doors and possible frames, some were even hand made mortised right through Edwardian so they were ok for 100 years but now thrown away even though the labour I had spent on them bringing them back to their former glory wasted in 1992 while doing work on the property under Building Regulation approval completed & Certificate, fire doors were not required. I don’t let individual rooms that was created by Council HMO. So why were houses on one let required to have all those costs & Regulation’s, do they think 2 storey houses are the highest fire risks. I think people have a good chance of getting out of those, rather than the multi story blocks where loss of life is more likely. Anyway there are huge other costs like re-wire, fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, extra cooking & washing facilities etc. £1550. App’ for Mandatory / 5 persons, EPC, DEICR 5 yearly Cert’, Annual Certificates gas, emergency lights, fire alarms, HOW 2 RENT guide, Accreditation, RIGHT 2 RENT & Share Codes, we are loaded with Compliance just to add insult to injury Abolish Section 21 in affect creating a Permanent Eviction Ban.
    So apart from other matters how are we supposed to deal a Tenancy joint & several when is it broken when one or more leave or are you saying it is never broken and can’t be replaced or are they going to invent another bodge, there is so much more..


    Very well put, Michael!


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