The government has published a White Paper setting out a number of reforms to the private rental sector including the abolishment of ‘no-fault evictions’ – a landmark development in the world of landlord and tenant law.
Current possession routes
Under the current legislation, there are two routes to evict a tenant from a property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (“AST”); as provided under sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
The section 21 procedure allows a landlord to recover possession of their property once the fixed term of the AST has come to an end. At present, the landlord does not need to give any reasons for serving notice under section 21 and, provided all the relevant procedural requirements have been complied with, they should be able to regain possession of the property as a matter of course. It is for this reason, the section 21 procedure is commonly referred to as ‘no fault’ eviction.
The section 8 procedure, on the other hand, requires the landlord to rely on one of the specified grounds for eviction as set out in the Housing Act 1988. These grounds include, for example, the non-payment of rent and/or other failures on the part of the tenant to comply with their obligations under the tenancy agreement.
Either route requires the landlord to follow the applicable notice procedure. If the tenant does not leave in line with the notice period, the landlord must obtain a possession order from the court.
Proposals for ending ‘no fault’ evictions
The recent White Paper proposals include confirmation of the government’s plans to abolish no-fault evictions under section 21 meaning that landlords will need to establish a reason to evict their tenant - the intention being to balance the rights of landlords and tenants and increase the security of a tenant’s position.
Additionally, there have been proposals to reform the grounds for possession under section 8 to ensure the system works for responsible landlords, and to take account of the common circumstances whereby a landlord may to wish to evict their tenant – such as if they wish to sell their property or to allow for family members to live in the property.
It is hoped that these new reforms will help to establish a degree of certainty in the outcome when a landlord seeks to recover possession. How the reforms work in practice is yet to be seen, however, this development is as significant as they come in the ever-changing landlord/tenant landscape, and one which we at Leathes Prior will be following closely.
How we can help
It is unknown when the new proposals will come into effect and, at present, landlords are able to rely on either the section 21 procedure or the current section 8 procedure.
Our specialist team at Leathes Prior are able provide advice to landlords as to their obligations and options for regaining possession of property, and advice to tenants as to their rights and responsibilities. If you require this advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing email@example.com or calling 01603 610911.