Earlier this year, the government published a number of reforms to the private rental sector when it announced the Renters Reform Bill. The Renters Reform Bill was proposed to fulfil the government’s 2019 manifesto, seeking to create a modern tenancy system, balancing the rights of both landlords and tenants.
The landmark development in landlord and tenant law was due to see the abolishment of ‘no-fault’ evictions, therefore requiring landlords to establish a reason to evict their tenant. However, the government’s stance appears to be uncertain after reports suggest the reform is not a priority and may be axed altogether.
What is ‘no-fault’ eviction?
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (“HA 1988”) currently provides landlords with the ability to seek possession of property without needing to rely on specific grounds or default on the tenant’s behalf. Therefore, the eviction is based on ‘no fault’. The ‘no fault’ route is often the preferred procedure for landlords letting a property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement as it can be quicker and more cost effective than the alternative procedure under Section 8 of the HA 1988.
To follow the ‘no fault’ route under Section 21, there are a number of pre-requisites that must be complied with. However, where these are satisfied, the court is obliged to make a possession order without requiring the landlord to put forward evidence as to the basis for seeking possession of property. Therefore, the Section 21 process often provides a reassuring safety net for landlords in respect of possession of property.
What does this mean for landlords and tenants?
Some reports suggest the plans to abolish the Section 21 procedure may be shelved altogether, resulting in landlords being in a position to continue using the ‘no fault’ route to obtain possession of their property. In doing so, landlords may be able to continue serving notice seeking possession without the need to provide an evidenced reason. Of course, this raises concern as to whether the government plans to address the current issues regarding the imbalance of security for tenants and for landlords.
It is likely landlords will welcome this news, with the continuation of the reassuring safety net that the ‘no fault’ procedure can provide. However, for tenants, there continues to be uncertainty of their occupation of property once the fixed term of their tenancy has expired.
Whilst the proposed plans to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions may not come to fruition, the government has stated it remains committed to ensuring a “fair deal”. Therefore, we may see further developments in the near future. In the meantime, landlords are able to rely on either the Section 21 procedure or the current Section 8 procedure to obtain possession of property.
At Leathes Prior, we continue to follow these developments as they unfold. During this period of uncertainty, our specialist Property Team are able to provide advice to landlords as to their obligations and options for obtaining 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 with Shaun Taylor by email firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01603 281163.