16 February 2024 by Bradley Ali

No Fault evictions to be banned by General Election

The Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, has confirmed the Government’s commitment to banning Section 21 (no fault) evictions before the next General Election.

Under existing legislation, Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to serve a notice on their tenants to take back their property without having to provide any legal justification. These are referred to as ‘no fault evictions’ and give tenants just two months to move out of the property.

Ministry of Justice data shows that, between July and September, 8,399 landlords in England started Section 21 no fault eviction court proceedings against their tenants – the highest number for seven years. In December 2023, Shelter (a housing charity) reported homelessness had risen by 14% in a year. As no fault evictions are seen as contributing to homelessness, the Government is under huge pressure to prioritise and implement the Bill without any further delay.

The Renters Reform Bill abolishes no fault evictions 

The Government introduced the Renters Reform Bill in May 2023 to “bring in a better deal for renters”.  It includes abolishing no fault evictions and reforming landlord possession grounds. The Bill itself is still being debated and scrutinised in depth through Parliament but is expected to become law around October 2024. The Bill will:

  • Abolish Section 21 no fault evictions and move to a simpler periodic tenancy structure, providing more security for tenants;
  • Introduce more comprehensive possession grounds so that:
    • landlords can still recover their property (including where they wish to sell their property or move in close family); and
    • it’s easier to repossess properties where tenants are at fault, for example in cases of anti-social behaviour and repeat rent arrears;
  • Allow tenants to appeal excessively above-market rents which are purely designed to force them out;
  • Give tenants the right to request a pet in the property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. To support this, landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property;
  • Create a Privately Rented Property Portal to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance alongside providing better information to tenants to make informed decisions when entering into a tenancy agreement; and
  • Introduce a Private Rental Sector Ombudsman to provide cheaper and quicker dispute resolution.

Should a Landlord wish to recover possession of its property, it can still use Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, which permits evictions for a limited number of reasons. The Bill will therefore update Section 8 by adding some new grounds for eviction. For example, where a landlord wishes to sell its property or if the tenant has been in arrears at least 2 months on 3 separate occasions within a 3 year period.

If the Bill becomes law in October 2024, then not only will it apply to all new tenancies after that date, it will also apply any existing tenancies prior that date as soon as that tenancy’s fixed term agreement ends.

What does the end of no fault evictions mean for the Private Rental Sector?

The Bill will transform the Private Rental Sector and give greater bargaining power to tenants at the expense of landlords, who are currently still adapting to recent tax changes and higher interest rates. Banning no fault evictions gives tenants peace of mind that they cannot be arbitrarily evicted but, by making it harder to evict tenants, it could reduce the amount of properties available on the market – making it even harder to find a place to rent. Furthermore, landlords will become more selective about who they offer properties to as they know it will be much harder to evict them.  So it is likely we will continue to see higher eviction rates before the Bill becomes law and more stringent entry requirements for tenants in the aftermath.

If you are a landlord or tenant and have any queries or would like advice on the potential impact of the Renters Reform Bill, please contact our specialist Residential and Commercial Real Estate Teams.

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