Gove Announces Section 21 Ban Before Next Election

In a BBC interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Housing Secretary Michael Gove has declared the government’s intention to eliminate Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions before the forthcoming General Election. This move, diverging sharply from previous governmental stances, raises significant concerns among landlords.

The decision to ban Section 21 evictions is part of the delayed Renters (Reform) Bill. Until now, ministers had insisted that such a ban would only proceed once the possession courts system, recently deemed “still in crisis” by expert Paul Shamplina, was reformed and improved.

During the interview, Gove affirmed, “we will have outlawed it and we will have put the money into the courts in order to ensure that they can enforce that.” He emphasised the government’s focus on preventing the “abuse” of no-fault evictions by a minority of landlords who misuse eviction threats to unfairly raise rents or discourage complaints about property conditions.

This reversal comes amidst sharp criticism from housing advocates like Shelter, who argue that progress on the Renters (Reform) Bill has been too slow, suggesting a deprioritisation by Gove’s department. However, this policy shift has prompted apprehensions within the landlord community, concerned about the diminishing control over their properties and the potential for increased difficulties in managing tenancies.

Despite challenges in the current courts system, where landlords face prolonged delays in evicting problematic tenants—often extending beyond a year—the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate some improvement. The median time from claim to landlord repossession has decreased to 21.7 weeks from a high of 42.3 weeks in 2021, suggesting a slow but positive trend in processing times.

Landlords are now faced with the task of navigating this new regulatory landscape, which significantly alters the balance of power in the rental sector. While intended to protect tenants from unfair evictions, this change sparks a dialogue on the need for equally robust measures to support landlords in managing their properties effectively and ensuring the sustainability of the private rental market.