In an attempt to give tenants more long-term housing security and stability, the government has announced its intention to scrap Section 21 notices for evictions, writes Ross Pierrepont, a lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Newark.
This may effectively create open-ended tenancies for private renters.
Described by the Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire as “the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation”, Ross looks at what this actually means for private landlords and tenant evictions.
Private sector rental reforms – what’s happening and why?
The government is concerned that unscrupulous landlords have been using a notice known as a Section 21 notice to unfairly evict tenants who have made a complaint about their property and that this has increased the number of families who are homeless in England.
This concern is backed up by a recent survey among 2,000 private renters conducted by Citizens Advice that suggested tenants who had made a formal complaint about their property were 46% more likely to be evicted without reason within six months of making the complaint.
What is Section 21?
A Section 21 notice currently allows a landlord to evict a tenant with as little as two months’ notice after their assured shorthold tenancy (either ‘periodic’ or fixed-term) has ended, without giving a reason.
For landlords faced with problem tenants, Section 21 has allowed them to end a difficult tenancy and regain possession of their property reasonably quickly with these evictions.
However, consternation that Section 21 is actually helping ‘rogue’ landlords to contribute to rising family homelessness, has led the government to announce its intention to scrap Section 21 in the hope that tenants will have more housing security and be protected from unethical landlords and evictions without a reason.
More security for tenants, but what about landlords?
Although on the face of this news, it may seem that the scales are being tipped in favour of added protections for tenants, it’s not all doom and gloom for landlords.
Under the proposed reforms, tenancies can still be ended and evictions will take place if landlords can provide a “concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law” that shows the tenant is clearly in breach of their tenancy agreement.
Using Section 8 to evict tenants who break their agreements
Landlords will still be able to use a Section 8 notice under the Housing Act 1988 to evict a tenant who isn’t complying with the tenancy agreement (for example, not paying rent, damaging the property or causing a nuisance), which may require the issuing of court proceedings to obtain possession. However, landlords should be aware that if the tenant remedies the issue on which the Section 8 notice was served, then, although it will depend on the specific circumstances, it is possible that the court will not sanction a possession order.
The government is also considering a review of Section 8 notices but no dates have been agreed for the consultation at present.
Ross finishes: These plans to reform the private rental sector are so that both sides know where they stand. Tenants will have the housing security they need and protections from rogue landlords, but landlords will still have legal means to evict problem tenants who are clearly breaching the terms of their tenancy agreements.
Our legal experts at Tallents Solicitors are here to help should you have issues with a tenancy agreement. Just call us on 01636 671881 to arrange a confidential appointment.