Are you a landlord renting out or perhaps a tenant renting a private property in England? Then you may or may not be aware that a consultation about to start on banning Article what has come to be known as “no fault evictions”.
Essentially the government consultation seeks to end Section 21 notices being served on tenants who have kept their obligations in a tenancy agreement but are being asked to return possession to the landlord by reason only of the term of the tenancy being at an end. In doing so, the proposal seeks to afford tenants more protection residential tenancies.
Currently, landlords have to the power to evict their tenants without reason after a fixed term tenancy period ends by just giving a minimum of 8 weeks’ notice. The new proposals aim to end this power.
Making the government’s case, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that evidence showed that “so call Section 21 evictions were one of the biggest causes of family homelessness”. The Prime Minister lent her voice surmising that:
“Everyone renting in the private sector has the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence; …this important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long term certainly and peace of mind they deserve”
As a landlord you are probably questioning why the government wants to put a stop to allowing you evict tenants without a reason at the end of their term, a system/procedure that has been in place for years and seem to be working for all concerned. A spokesman for landlords has argued that the consultation is badly thought-out and that if the proposals become law, it would cause chaos in tenant/ landlord relationship. He further argued that landlords have little choice but to use Section 21, notices due to a lack of confidence in the ability or the capacity of the courts to deal with possession claims quickly and surely, regardless of the strength of the landlord’s case.
It is of note that landlords will still be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reason to do so but they will no longer be able to unexpectedly evict families with only eight weeks’ notice just because the contractual term has ended. Thus, if the proposal goes ahead, landlords will need to give a “good reason” to evict tenants and provide evidence of this.
As the consultation process are at an early stage, it is not clear what will constitute a “good reason”. However, landlords may still be able to use Section 8 notice, but at present this is only available if tenants have broken the terms of their tenancy.
Similar provisions have been in place in Scotland since 2017 and the Welsh government are looking into bringing in comparable rules. No mention though has been made of the measure being introduced in Northern Ireland.
Could this herald the much needed shake up to the private renting sector? We wait with baited breath.