Currently, landlords can use a Section 21 notice to evict their tenants after a fixed term tenancy (with a written contract) ends or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (a ‘periodic’ tenancy). The landlord uses this to begin the process of repossession and they do not need to provide a reason why they wish to do this. This is why it is also known as a ‘no-fault’ eviction.
However, landlords have used Section 21 to evict tenants when the tenant is at fault (such as in cases of antisocial behaviour or rent arrears).
Research has found that 83% of landlords who used Section 21 had done so due to tenants not paying rent, and over half had used it when their tenants regularly displayed antisocial behaviour.
But why are landlords doing this when we have Section 8, which was created for such cases? Many say it is because this type of eviction is a costly, time-consuming and grounds-based court process.
A royal farewell to Section 21
Despite criticism, the government is set to abolish Section 21, as announced by the Queen in her December 2019 speech.
In its place, a Renters’ Reform Bill has been presented, which the government says will “Introduce a package of reforms to deliver a fairer and more effective rental market.”
What does the Bill include?
The headlines include: abolishing the use of ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming the grounds for possession; and giving landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the courts where there is a legitimate need for them to do so by reforming current legislation (which includes improving the process so that landlords can get their property back quicker).
For renters, the Bill outlines a new lifetime deposit that would mean they would not need to save for a new deposit every time they move; and new measures to expose rogue landlords and property agents in order to improve standards, and empower tenants to make more informed choices about who they rent from.
According to the National Landlords Association, 6,500 landlords and agents surveyed said they would sell some or all of their rental properties after hearing that Section 21 is set to be abolished. This would have great consequences for landlords and tenants alike.
Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the National Landlords Association, says: “The court system has been in dire need of reform for a long time, so we’re happy to see action on this. Any improvements to this system need to be in place, properly funded and fully functional before the government even contemplates changes to section 21.”