Possible delays to the abolition of Section 21 “no-fault” evictions
The Renters (Reform) Bill has been widely anticipated for its aim to abolish Section 21, also known as ‘no-fault evictions’. However, recent concessions suggest that there may be delays in implementing this change.
The impending Renters (Reform) Bill is a landmark legislation for the private rented sector, representing one of the most significant changes in the past three decades. The abolition of Section 21 has long been a key focus of the bill and has received widespread attention in the media.
Yet, just prior to the bill's second reading in October 2023, the government announced that the courts' processes would need to undergo "sufficient progress" before Section 21 could be abolished. This suggests that the abolition of Section 21 may face delays, with some referring to this as a complete "U-turn", according to Letting Agent Today.
To clarify, the government stated that it will not proceed with the abolition of Section 21 until there are necessary reforms to the justice system. They have emphasised the importance of ensuring improved court processes before moving forward with the abolition. It acknowledged that while most tenancies do not need to ever resort to going to court over issues, the system needs to be as “smooth and efficient as possible” for when there are disputes.
What changes can be expected for section 21?
Plans to abolish section 21 were first disclosed in the Queen's Speech in 2019 and were confirmed in the A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper in 2022. The main objective of the bill is to simplify tenancy structures by transitioning all tenancies to periodic contracts. This means that a tenancy will only end if the tenant chooses to leave or if the landlord has a valid reason based on section 8 grounds. The removal of section 21 would eliminate "no-fault evictions" altogether.
Why is section 21 being abolished?
Michael Gove stated that under current legislation, some renters face a lack of security, particularly in relation to "no-fault" evictions under section 21. The government's response in A New Deal for Renting highlighted that section 21 evictions discourage tenants from challenging poor standards due to the risk of eviction without reason.
The new rules aim to empower tenants to challenge unfair practices and rent increases without the fear of eviction.
What does this mean for landlords and tenants?
Once section 21 is abolished, landlords will always need to provide a reason for ending a tenancy, such as a breach of contract or the desire to sell the property. However, tenants will have the option to end the tenancy at any time by providing two months' notice to the landlord.
The 2022 white paper also ensures that student tenants will benefit from these reforms, offering them the same security and ability to challenge poor standards as private renters.
What will replace section 21?
The government plans to strengthen the grounds for possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This will enable landlords to reclaim their property under reasonable circumstances.
After a tenant has resided in a property for six months, landlords will be able to pursue eviction under "reasonable" circumstances based on section 8. This includes cases such as redevelopment, property sale, or allowing a close family member to rent the property.
The ground for anti-social behaviour will also be reinforced, allowing landlords to immediately make a possession claim for behaviors capable of causing nuisance or annoyance. This ensures that a wider range of tenant behaviours can be considered in court.
As your letting agent, we will continue to inform you of any changes to the Renters Reform Bill that may impact you and your property. You can read our helpful guide here.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with your property management team, we’re here to help.