On 17 May 2023, the Renters (Reform) Bill 2022-23, which plans to abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions under Section 21 and strengthen Section 8 evictions, was introduced to Parliament. No date has been fixed for the implementation of this legislation but it is expected to be in effect towards the end of 2023, once it has been sent to the King for Royal Assent.
Currently, landlords can evict their assured shorthold tenancy tenants by using a Section 21 Notice or a Section 8 Notice, or both. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 provides for landlords to repossess their properties from tenants without having to establish a ‘fault’ of the tenant. These evictions are often referred to as ‘no-fault’ evictions. In practice, this means that landlords can evict their tenants by providing them with two months’ notice once their existing fixed term tenancy has ended. This is a direct comparison to Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 which only enables landlords to evict their tenants if the landlord is able to show one of the relevant grounds has been met, which include breaches of the tenancy or non-payment of rent.
The issue with no fault evictions are that tenants may feel reluctant to request home repairs, challenge poor standards or contest rent increases in case their landlord decides to evict them. This can cause tenants to feel their housing is less secure which, according to government research, has knock-on effects on tenant’s mental health and their children’s education, as their ability to plan for their futures is limited by the risk of a ‘no-fault’ eviction.
In a 2014 survey commissioned by Shelter, one in twelve private renters said they were too scared to report problems or request maintenance out of fear of losing their home.
As a result of these concerns, the Conservative Manifesto 2019 outlined a more advantageous arrangement for tenants which would abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions so that tenants could not be evicted without good reason. The existing grounds to evict a tenant under Section 8 will be strengthened to ensure that landlords are still able to effectively evict tenants when necessary, particularly in relation to rent arrears and anti-social behaviour. Landlords will now be able to make a possession claim immediately for anti-social behaviour exhibited by tenants and this includes a wider range of behaviours which are ‘capable of causing nuisance and annoyance’. There will be new grounds introduced under Section 8 which will allow for landlords to evict tenants to enable them to move close family members into their property, sell the property or to renovate it.
The changes also include a transition from Assured Shorthold Tenancies to periodic tenancies. This means that the tenancy will only come to an end if the tenant chooses to leave or if the landlord has a valid reason under the Section 8 grounds. This will also assist university students who may not wish to move out at the end of the academic year, as under the new legislation they will have the same right to live in a secure home as other private renters.
Other changes include the introduction of a new Ombudsman to deal with landlord and tenant disputes, rather than attending court, as well as the introduction of a Property Portal where landlords can register tenancies and both tenants and landlords can understand their rights/responsibilities under the tenancy.
The government have proposed a two-stage introduction whereby stage one will transition all new tenancies to periodic and stage two will transfer existing tenancies to become period tenancies.
Without Section 21 Notices, tenants who have not broken the terms of the tenancy will have the right to indefinitely remain in a property unless the landlord has a legitimate ground for repossession, for example selling the property. Landlords may therefore worry about the potential damage indefinite tenants could cause whilst living in the property. There are concerns that landlords may leave the residential housing sector, reducing access to housing for those who cannot afford to purchase a property.
If you are a landlord and wish to enquire about serving a Section 21 Notice or Section 8 Notice ahead of the implementation of these changes, or require any advice on evicting tenants under the new proposed changes above, please call 01892 526344 or contact Simeon Blewett at email@example.com or Darren Forrester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.