What is a no-fault eviction?
Sho Taniyama is a Paralegal in the Dispute Resolution Team and has produced this helpful guide.
There has been recent media attention on the Government’s long standing proposals to bring an end to Section 21 evictions, also known as “no-fault evictions”, in relation to private residential lettings. This has escalated with the recent publication of the first draft of that Bill, known as The Renters (Reform) Bill.
The Section 21 eviction was initially introduced as a way for private landlords to evict Assured Shorthold Tenants without having to give a reason to do so, such as non-payment of rent, allowing landlords to recover possession of their property provided that the correct procedure had been validly followed.
The current Section 21 regime, although highly technical in procedure, requires a Landlord to take two main steps to recover possession of their property. The first is that the landlord must serve a valid notice upon the tenant that provides at least two months of notice for the tenant to vacate. The second is that if the tenant does not vacate the property, the landlord must commence court proceedings on a claim for possession of the property. A Landlord must obtain an order of the Court for possession, followed by Court authorised warrant, for possession to be recovered by a bailiff.
What is the purpose of the new legislation?
Essentially, to end the “no fault eviction” process under the Section 21 regime. The aim is to strike a balance between providing more security of a home to tenants, whilst ensuring landlords can recover possession for legitimate, fair and retaliatory reasons.
How will evictions be dealt with?
With the proposed abolition of section 21 notices, landlords will be required to provide a substantive reason and evidence for evicting the tenant.
There are already ways that Landlords can recover possession based on reasons such as rental arrears, antisocial behaviour, breach of contract, under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. These reasons can be relied upon under section 8 of that act.
However, the new legislation intends to apply those grounds to all tenancies, and then extend the number of grounds available that can be used as a reason to recover possession. Furthermore, those new grounds will set out grounds which, if proven, require that the courts must grant the landlord possession of the property (known as the mandatory grounds). There will also be other grounds added which, if proven, will state that the court may grant the landlord possession (known as the discretionary grounds).
What are some of the new grounds are being introduced?
Although there have been a variety of amendments which were made in the Renters’ Reform Bill, some of the notable new grounds for possession are:
- The landlord or their close family wishes to move into the property.
- The landlord wishes to sell the property.
- A superior-lease ending.
- If the tenant no longer is employed by the landlord, and the tenancy was subject to employment.
When will the reforms take place?
The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023 and will be considered in due course. It is anticipated that various changes will be made to that first draft, with the input of various stakeholders such as Shelter UK through various stages of legislative scrutiny.
As such, for now, there is no definite “start date” of when the bill will come into force. However, it has been suggested that this is becoming a priority, such that it might progress sooner rather than later.
What does this bill mean for landlords and tenants?
As part of the governments manifesto commitment to ensure tenants are afforded further protection from evictions, landlords must have a reason for evicting tenants. There is no doubt that both tenants and landlords will be impacted by this change.
For tenants, this may mean an increased likelihood in section 21 notices before the introduction of the act, as some landlords may become unwilling to continue renting their properties without the flexibility offered by section 21 notices. After the introduction of the Bill, there may be substantial benefits for tenants of its introduction in that they are able to enjoy an added level of stability in their tenancies but equally, there might be disadvantages in that tenants may find it harder to find properties to rent from.
For example, on the present draft, the new Renter’s Reform Bill removes fixed term tenancies for Students. Previously, students who were pursuing higher education were able to rent a property for a fixed term (i.e. an academic year) and were unable to extend their stay without a new fixed term tenancy. The abolition of fixed-term tenancies means that students now are able to request to stay in the property for a longer period, and the landlord must evict the tenants with a reason.
For landlords, the disadvantages of the abolition of section 21 notices may lead to there being growing concerns in removing problematic tenants in the future. But, there may be there may be substantial benefits for Landlords in that they are able to rely on the additional grounds when seeking possession, such as selling their property, or housing close family members.
Although these changes were once speculated only, they are now expected to come.
Regardless, the abolition indicates that both tenants and landlords will need to consider their current rights and obligations and how these may differ in the future.
Whether it be assisting tenants, landlords, or agents, Wollens’ Property Litigation team is keeping up to date with these developments and has and is ready to assist with the issues arising from the developments and other issues surrounding the private rented sector.
If you are facing any property related issues, our team will be pleased to take your call to find out how we can assist and advise you on your next steps.
Contact Sho Taniyama on 01803 396667 or email [email protected]