As part of a complete overhaul of the sector, the government has outlined plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions – so called ‘no-fault’ evictions. The Welsh Assembly has subsequently announced the same proposals. Section 21’s Scottish equivalent has already been removed north of the border.
The section 21 notice is a minimum two months notice served on an assured shorthold tenant when the landlord wants the property back. Because no reason needs to be given, these notices are commonly used even for things like rent arrears because it’s often easier than having to argue in court about the reasons.
Under the Government’s plans, landlords would need to provide a “concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law” in order to end tenancies.
The abolition of section 21 notices would effectively create open-ended tenancies.
The proposals have cross party support which vastly increases the likelihood of the new proposals going through.
To reassure responsible landlords that they will be able to end tenancies where they have a legitimate reason to do so, ministers will amend the Section 8 eviction process, so property owners are able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.
Court processes will also be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property in the event of tenants falling into rent arrears or damaging the property.
The next step is for the Government to consult on the proposals and “collaborate with and listen to landlords, tenants and others in the private rented sector to develop a new deal for renting”.
ARLA chief executive David Cox said this morning: “Today’s news could be devastating for the private rented sector and landlords operating within it. The effects of the tenant fees ban have not yet been felt, and now the Government is introducing more new legislation which could deter landlords from operating in the market.”
He said that ARLA Propertymark will be engaging with the Government to ensure ministers fully understand the consequences of any changes, and all changes are based on evidence, so landlords have the ability to regain their properties if needed.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “Whilst the RLA recognises the pressure being placed on Government for change, there are serious dangers of getting such reforms wrong. With the demand for private rented homes continuing to increase, we need the majority of good landlords to have confidence to invest in new homes. This means ensuring they can swiftly repossess properties for legitimate reasons such as rent arrears, tenant anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell them. This needs to happen before any moves are made to end Section 21. For all the talk of greater security for tenants, that will be nothing if the homes to rent are not there in the first place. We call on the Government to act with caution.”