In May 2023 the government introduced the Renters (Reform) Bill which aimed to abolish no-fault evictions.
The ban was suggested as no-fault evictions are believed to increase homelessness. Homelessness as a result of Section 21 notices is at a seven year high. In fact, in the last three months the amount of people receiving eviction notices has increased by 38%. The aim of providing renters with more security was recently mentioned by King Charles in the 2023 King’s Speech, which seemed to confirm the government’s commitment to the Renters (Reform) Bill.
However, as B P Collins’ property disputes team advises, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Housing has recently announced that plans to abolish no-fault evictions have been paused until the court system is reformed. The government did not provide any specifics about what this reform would involve or importantly, how long it would take.
Currently, landlords can use Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to end an assured shorthold tenancy without any grounds. Landlords are still required to comply with numerous conditions before they can validly serve a Section 21 notice and tenants must be given at least two months’ notice to leave the property.
Even if a Section 21 notice is validly served, a tenant can continue to stay in the property until after their notice period. This means that landlords are forced to pursue a possession order in the courts. Provided the tenancy agreement is in writing, landlords can usually rely on an ‘accelerated possession’ procedure which means that no court hearing is necessary.
If no-fault evictions are abolished, landlords will still be able to rely on Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 to serve a notice. It is important to note that this is a more difficult route for landlords as there are specific grounds which must be satisfied before possession can be obtained. Some of the ‘mandatory’ grounds (which if made out, the court has to order possession) include:
- If the Landlord occupied the property as their only or principal residence before the tenancy started;
- If the Landlord intends to carry out substantial works or demolish the property and these works cannot be carried out with the tenant there; and
- If rent is unpaid at the time when the Section 8 notice is served and at the date of the hearing.
In addition, under Section 8 there are some discretionary grounds, where the court may order possession of the property but is not required to. Some of these include:
- If the tenant has persistently delayed in paying rent;
- An obligation of the tenancy has been broken or not performed;
- The tenant has by their own acts or neglect caused the common parts to deteriorate; and
- The tenant was employed by the Landlord and the property was let as part of their employment but the employment has come to an end.
We await to see if this new law will come into force and what changes will be made. If you would like advice or information about taking possession of a rental property or you are concerned about being evicted, please contact the property disputes team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01753 889995.