Scrapping Section 21

Scrapping Section 21

This article originally appeared in Letting Agent Today. 


The head of a major property management firm says the controversial proposal to scrap Section 21 eviction powers for landlords is actually “long overdue”.

Consultations on the measure were announced yesterday and have been greeted with widespread scepticism and anger by trade bodies for letting agents and landlords. 

But David Alexander, joint managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander - says the Scottish equivalent of S21 was scrapped and has led to the rental sector north of the border modernising and actually improving.

Alexander says the scrapping of S21 for England and Wales is “welcome news and long overdue” and follows the path that already exists in Scotland. 

He says: “Scotland provides a model for the future direction that the private rented sector operates in England as it is already more regulated than the rest of the country. The no fault grounds for eviction notices no longer exist in Scotland so tenants can no longer be easily evicted from their homes. In Scotland landlords can no longer set short term tenancy agreements of six months and the Scottish government has already established indefinite tenancy agreements.

“The recently approved Tenants Fees Bill in England and Wales which bans administration fees being charged to tenants has been law in Scotland since 2012. Despite some opposition to these changes at the time they have all been introduced and the PRS has not collapsed or disappeared. 

“It has had to adapt and change the way it operates but that, in my opinion, is a very good thing as it offers an opportunity to change the relationship between landlords and tenants.

Alexander insists that laws governing the private rented sector have remained very landlord-centred and not kept pace with the growth of the rental tenure, which now includes 20 per cent of UK households.

“When the 1988 Housing Act was introduced the private rented sector was quite small and landlord ownership was not as widespread as it is now. We now have a sector comprising 4.8m homes yet many of the owners are ‘accidental’ landlords having inherited properties or been unable to sell their own property and decided to rent it out instead” he says.

“This, coupled with TV shows highlighting the get rich quick aspects of property development whose myths unscrupulous letting agents exploited for financial gain, has meant that many of these landlords have simply seen tenants as cash cows.

“But the private rented sector is already changing to ensure that tenants are treated more fairly, more honestly and with due respect. But more important than changing the legislation is the need to change the mindset and relationship of so many landlords and agents which is too often divisive and confrontational.

“The future for the private rented sector is in building upon legislative and regulatory changes to create a system which benefits all sides to ensure that tenants are secure in what is, after all, their homes. The survival of the sector is dependent upon it changing quickly and for the better.”