CaCHE response to MHCLG Section 21 consultation

In October 2019, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched a consultation asking for views on implementing the government’s decision to remove Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in England and improve Section 8 eviction grounds.

In this response, we point to that research undertaken by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) relating to the question set out in the consultation.

There are two main relevant strands of CaCHE research; i)  research examining the psycho-social effects of tenure insecurity and ii) research exploring changes in the PRS and how governance structures vary across the UK.

Psycho-social effects of tenure insecurity

The psycho-social effects of tenure insecurity in the private rental sector are something that CaCHE has explored in depth. In, The frustrated aspirations of generation rent, CaCHE conducted 16 in-depth interviews with low/mid-income young people living in the private rented sector (PRS) in England and Scotland. They found tenure insecurity to be a major source of stress and anxiety for tenants in England.

Tenure insecurity is often thought of as a young person’s problem, but the number of older renters is also increasing. The CaCHE report, Beyond generation rent, interviewed 17 older private renters from different parts of the UK and found that the financial stress of renting and the challenges of making a rental house a ‘home’ were exacerbated for families with children.

Finally, the CaCHE/Mind Cymru evidence-review, Housing insecurity and mental health in Wales, looked at how housing factors, relating to financial, spatial and relational security, affect individual mental health. Although the report was produced with the Welsh context in mind, the pertinence of its findings extends well beyond. Most notably, it discusses the adverse effects that evictions have on mental health.

Together, all three of the reports above suggest that reducing insecurity in the PRS will have positive effects on the well-being of tenants living there.

Governance of the PRS across the UK

Before implementing the proposed reforms on the PRS in England, it is important to consider how the sector has changed over recent decades, and to understand the effects of similar reforms in other parts of the UK.

The report, The private rented sector in the UK, provides an in-depth overview of how the PRS has changed and a deep exploration of how policy and regulatory responses have varied across the UK. Of particular relevance are Section 2 ‘Regulating the contract’ and Section 3 ‘Regulator schemes’, which provide a detailed summary of PRS governance in terms of: the balance of power between tenants and landlords; knowledge of rights and powers; and regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants. This report is the first of many that will be produced as part of a major new 3-year CaCHE collaboration with TDS Charitable Foundation and the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust looking at raising standards in the PRS.

In removing S21, MHCLG is following the path of the Scottish Government who, in 2016, made all new private tenancies open-ended. The results of this ‘natural experiment’ are still not entirely clear but CaCHE, with Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), have summarised the reforms in a recent overview document and discussed the challenge of evidencing their effects in a briefing paper.


If you wish to discuss any of these papers further or to organise an event bringing together academics working in this field, then please contact Dr Chris Foye, Knowledge Exchange Associate, (07501 041 286).

This response has been submitted to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.


Date: October 8, 2019 4:50 pm


Categorised in: