Access to justice

Balance of power between tenants and landlords a step closer with renters reform

A ban on ‘no-fault’ evictions, heralded in a UK government white paper published on 16 June, has been praised by solicitors’ leaders.

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We agree with the ban on Section 21 evictions in principle, as it is one of the leading causes of family homelessness in the UK.

“We would be glad to see so-called ‘retaliatory evictions’ made more difficult. But people would still need to be able to access legal advice to defend their rights when these happen.*

“If tenants cannot afford legal advice when they face eviction there is a potential inequality of power between them and their landlord. Justice should be equally accessible to both sides.

“Legal aid may be available to tenants but even families on low incomes may not be financially eligible for it, and in many parts of the country it is increasingly difficult to find a legal aid solicitor for housing issues.”

The Law Society’s legal aid desert heat maps showed that almost 41% of people in England and Wales do not have a housing legal aid provider in their local authority area, a figure that has grown by around 3% since 2019.

According to Shelter, nearly 230,000 private renters have been served a ‘no-fault’ eviction notice since April 2019.**

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “There needs to be a balance between the rights of tenants and landlords. We’ve previously recommended widening Section 8, which enables a landlord to regain their property in some circumstances.

“Careful calibration is needed to improve security of tenure while ensuring landlords are not disincentivised from entering into longer-term fixed tenancies.”

Notes to editors

Read the government’s white paper: A fairer private rented sector

* A ‘retaliatory eviction’ means if a tenant has raised concerns about their home and the landlord evicts or tries to evict their tenant as revenge in retaliation to their complaint.

** Read more about Shelter’s ‘no-fault’ eviction statistics

Find out about our legal aid deserts campaign

Read about our housing legal aid deserts statistics

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