No-fault evictions – a thing of the past?
On 21 July, the government launched its consultation on the abolition of Section 21 Notices (more commonly known as ‘no-fault evictions’), with the aim of improving security for tenants in the private rented sector. The consultation ended last month and, with the government currently analysing the feedback received, landlords are waiting with bated breath for the final outcome.
Nearly one in five UK households is currently renting their property from a private landlord. As things currently stand, a landlord is entitled to serve a Section 21 Notice on a tenant without giving a reason, after which the tenant must vacate the property within two months. According to campaigners, this leaves many tenants facing significant insecurity and even homelessness, particularly as a result of ‘revenge evictions’, whereby Section 21 Notices are served in retaliation against tenants who complain about their landlord to the local authorities. According to Citizens Advice, tenants who complain in this way stand a 46% chance of being evicted from their property.
Removing the ‘assured shorthold tenancy’…
As a result, the government is proposing to put an end to no-fault evictions by removing a certain type of tenancy, known as an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), from the Housing Act 1988. Currently, ASTs are by far the most common type of tenancy agreement, typically lasting between six and 12 months. However, the landlord is able to evict the tenant at any time and thus regain possession of their property without having to provide a reason for their actions (i.e. via a Section 21 Notice). The only exception to this rule is tenancies which began on or after 1 October 2015; in these cases, landlords cannot serve a Section 21 Notice until four months have elapsed since the start of the tenancy.
…will leave ‘assured tenancies’ as the only option
If assured shorthold tenancies are abolished, this will essentially render the assured tenancy the only type of tenancy available to landlords. Under this type of tenancy, landlords are unable to evict the tenant unless they can provide adequate justification according to a number of grounds, otherwise known as the Section 8 process. This has caused a great deal of concern among landlords, who fear this will lead to long and costly legal battles to regain possession of their properties. Therefore, the government has proposed to strengthen the fault-based Section 8 process, with a landlord having to prove one of the following in order to obtain possession:
• The landlord wishes to sell the property;
• The landlord, a spouse or family members want to use the property as their main residence;
• The landlord can prove that the tenant has been in rent arrears for two months;
• The landlord has proof that anti-social behaviour has taken place at the property; or
• The landlord can show that the tenants have prevented access to the property for repairs or safety checks
The consultation results
While the consultation paper makes it clear that the abolition of the Section 21 Notice will definitely go ahead, both landlords and tenants face an impatient wait to see what the exact outcome of the consultation will be.
If you have any queries about your tenancy, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, please do not hesitate to contact our Dispute Resolution team. You may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and or call us on 0203 871 0110.