26 April 2019 by

Revenge Evictions and Section 21 Notices

Last week the government announced plans to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants by changing the legal process.  It proposes abolishing the use of section 21 notices – a huge change to the private rental sector and much to the dismay of many landlords.

As you may or may not know, section 21 notices are used by landlords to evict tenants without reason or without fault. Currently landlords only need to wait 4 months into a tenancy before serving the section 21 notice and by doing so will give the tenant two months’ notice to vacate the property for tenancies with no fixed end date. If it is a fixed term tenancy; it will terminate at the end of the fixed term.

A section 21 notice is currently the preferred option for landlords when obtaining possession due to the fact that it requires no reason to be given, it is a relatively quick and cheap procedure, with often favourable results.

The proposals mean that landlords will have to provide a “concrete evidenced reason already specified in law” (e.g disrepair, anti-social behaviour, rent arrears) when attempting to bring a tenancy to an end.

A revenge or retaliatory eviction is when a Landlord serves notice on a tenant because they complained about disrepair.  While there is currently some protection which allows council’s to get involved and invalidate a section 21 notice it does not offer full protection particularly to uninformed tenants.  The proposed changes seek to boost the protection and prevent rogue landlords from taking advantage of their tenants.

As part of the proposed plans landlords can take some comfort from changes to the alternative eviction process.   The section 8 process will include further grounds to make it easier to evict (in the event that the landlord wishes to sell or move back into the property) and quicken the court process in situations of rent arrears or disrepair.

How will these changes affect the private rental sector? We do not know at this stage however landlords will eventually, it seems, be forced to use the section 8 procedure.

If you are a landlord, you may want to consider serving a section 21 notice sooner rather than later on that troublesome tenant before the change come into place.

If you are a tenant, you may soon have greater confidence to complain to your landlord without the fear of facing a “revenge eviction”.

If you are a landlord or a tenant  and require any advice on the issues discussed in this article, then please contact one of our solicitors in the Property Litigation team here.

 

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