Private landlords will be prevented from evicting tenants at short notice, if they are unable to show that the tenants are at fault or if they do not have a genuine reason to need to reclaim the property.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP announced that the government would be consulting on section 21 evictions, specifically looking to create open-ended tenancies for all private renters while providing landlords with a more effective course of action to get their property back when they have a genuine need to do so.
The government has said that the aim of the plans is to provide greater peace of mind to tenants in the private rental sector.
What Is A Section 21 Notice?
A section 21 notice, commonly referred to as a Notice to Quit, is a notice which a landlord can provide to their tenant in order to regain possession of a property. It requires that the landlord provide 2 months’ notice to the tenant, can only be given at the end of a tenancy agreement, and was introduced as part of the Housing Act 1988.
Under current rules, once a tenant reaches the end of their tenancy agreement, the landlord can serve a section 21 notice. This means that the tenant, who may have done nothing wrong, has 2 months to vacate the premises. Tenants have no ability to question the eviction, and the landlord does not have to provide a reason for the eviction.
Tenant groups have welcomed the change, stating that it would help prevent so-called revenge evictions and provide greater stability to the rental market.
What Is A Section 8 Notice?
A section 8 notice is a provision under the Housing Act 1988 that enables a landlord to reclaim possession of a property if the tenant is in rental arrears, has caused damage to the property, or has been shown to a nuisance neighbour. A section 8 notice eviction usually includes 14 days’ notice.
If a tenant has reached the end of their tenancy, it is easier for the landlord, in most cases, to serve a section 21 eviction notice because, under current rules, to simply apply for a section 21 eviction. This also makes landlords less inclined to renew or extend tenancy agreements. If they leave the tenancy to continue on a rolling basis, it means that they can apply to serve a Notice to Quit at any time.
The government, backed by tenant groups and consumer groups, have said that the current rules are not fair. They do not encourage tenant to lay down roots in rental accommodation, and they are considering ways in which this can be improved.
- The primary aim of the regulation changes is to stop tenants being evicted unless the landlord provides adequate notice and has justifiable reason for the eviction.
- Tenancies should, under new legislations, be open ended, therefore removing any uncertainty that tenants currently feel when renting property.
- Landlords will be given greater powers to get their property back when there is a genuine need to do so.
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has said that he intends to launch similar regulations, while Scotland introduced new legislation in 2017, requiring landlords to give a reason for eviction in all cases.
The consultation paper goes on to say that landlords will have to show an evidenced reason for the eviction. The National Landlords Association has said that many of its landlords are forced to use section 21 notices because they cannot rely on the courts to deal with section 8 applications quickly and reliably.
Reaction To The Proposed Changes
The Labour party has welcomed the move but has said that it won’t have the desired positive effects if landlords are still able to hike rent without reasons, effectively evicting tenants by pricing them out of the property. Labour has previously stated that it would abolish section 21 evictions and has also said that they would implement a host of other changes to the private rental sector.
Hannah Slater, of Generation Rent, described section 21 notices as “an outdated bit of law” and went on to say that “an unwanted house move is physically, mentally and financially very difficult.” She also said that the system is not the same in most of Europe, while in Scotland, tenants enjoy open ended tenancies and can remain a tenant as long as they pay rent and treat the property well.
Proponents of the changes have said that it will not only give greater stability but will prevent so called revenge evictions. Revenge evictions are typically section 21 notices that are served after a tenant complains about a problem with the premises. This is another problem highlighted by Generation Rent, and one that they claim could be stopped with the scrapping of no-fault evictions. David Smith is policy director for the Residential Landlords Association; he said that “until there are significant changes to the section 8 process it is inconceivable that the government could consider abolishing section 21.”
Not everybody supports the proposed changes. The Residential Landlords Association has said that section 21 notices were beneficial to tenants when introduced 30 years ago. They said that the length of time it takes to apply for and serve a section 8 notice needs to be addressed in order that landlords have a means of evicting tenants when they have genuine reason to do so. They also said that vulnerable tenants could be in danger, as landlords will lose confidence in renting to this group if they do not have a simple route to reasonable eviction.
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