Worcester City Councillors Call on the Government to Scrap Section 21

A motion brought forward by Labour Councillors Lynn Denham and Roger Berry calling on the Government to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 was passed with limited controversy by fellow Councillors at the full Worcester City Council meeting on 30 March.

Whilst other motions sparked widespread debate across parties, included those on drug policy and the recent protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Cllr Denham and Cllr Berry were able to put continued pressure on the Government to stick to their election pledges with the passing of their motion.

The motion called for the Managing Director of the Council to write to the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government to call on Government to abolish Section 21, as:

“Removing this unfair clause would help make renting more secure, improve standards, increase tenant confidence and ultimately contribute to making renting a viable long term alternative to home ownership or social rent for the millions who currently cannot access either.”

Worcester City Council 30th March Motion: Abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988

The Conservative Party Manifesto for the 2019 General Election promised a Better Deal for Renters which included abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions. This has not yet been a promise that the Conservative Party in Government have delivered on.

Section 21 allows for what are known as ‘no fault’ evictions. This section of the Housing Act 1988 essentially means that landlord can evict tenants without needing to give any form of justification for doing so (even if the tenant has lived in the property for some time).

The issues around Section 21 have become more prevalent due to the pandemic. HouseMark estimates that social-housing debt has risen 30 per cent under the pandemic to more than £1 billion. In addition, a Resolution Foundation report found that almost half a million families had fallen behind on rent as a result of the coronavirus crisis. In a time of mass uncertainty, the Government could offer some much-needed security to tenants by abolishing Section 21 and putting the legal emphasis on the landlord to provide a judge with a reasonable justification for instigating possessions proceedings.

Cllr Roger Berry, who proposed the motion to Worcester City Council, said:

“I was pleased the Council unanimously passed the motion; in the last 3 years alone the City Council has accepted nearly 1100 people as homeless under this section of the act. Words are not enough; in areas such as the city centre and Gorse Hill, private landlords should be prevented from evicting people and causing the misery of homelessness.”

Cllr Berry’s Labour colleague Lynn Denham seconded the motion and told Worcestershire Transformed:

”I was glad to second Labour’s motion to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.  I was surprised to hear that abolition is also within the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto.  These were clearly entirely empty words as the government has taken no action since. They had to be pressed in order to extend the temporary reprieve from S21 evictions within the Covid-19 regulations.”

If you have been served a Section 21 notice, contact your nearest Citizens Advice immediately. If you are not already, then consider becoming an Acorn member and grow the power of renters against unscrupulous landlords in your area.

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Article Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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