Tonight, BBC Panorama will investigate the widely debated Section 21, or no-fault evictions, procedure, and whether tenants deserve more protection, or if new rules would make the housing crisis worse.
The show will feature leading tenant eviction company Landlord Action, who will highlight the real reasons that landlords turn to Section 21.
Instances of what have come to be known as no-fault evictions are reported to have trebled in the last eight years. The BBC’s investigative journalist Richard Bilton aims to shed light on the difficulties faced by many private tenants in the UK, who have no long-term right to stay in their homes and can be ordered to leave with little by the way of notice or explanation.
Bilton will meet some of the people whose lives have been plunged into chaos by their landlords, but will also speak to landlords who feel that Section 21 is their only option.
With Britain depending on the private rental sector, no-fault evictions can sometimes feel like a lifeline for the country’s landlords.
Panorama interviewed Paul Shamplina, the Founder of Landlord Action, and the firm’s Senior Solicitor, Emma Philips, about the rise of no-fault evictions.
Shamplina comments: “When asked to appear on Panorama, I felt a necessity to present the landlords’ side on why so many use no-fault Section 21. The term no-fault is really a bit of a red herring. There is always a reason why a landlord ends a tenancy, but it’s a far cry from the headlines showing that landlords use it just to throw tenants out. If a landlord has a good tenant, the last thing they want to do is get rid of a them.
“However, in our experience, the main reasons for serving Section 21 notices are for rent arrears, tenants requesting to be evicted so they can be re-housed or, most recently, because landlords wish to sell their property owing to impending tax liabilities.”
New tenancy rules introduced in December 2017 ended the practice of no-fault evictions in Scotland. Following this, the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that the party’s next manifesto would include a pledge to scrap no-fault evictions in England.
Shamplina adds: “There are some very good tenants out there. Sadly, in some cases, they are being evicted through no fault of their own, but rather because of their landlords’ circumstances, which must be very upsetting. However, in my opinion, the abolition of Section 21 in England would compound the housing shortage.”
Panorama will appear on BBC One tonight at 20:30.