10 January 2020 by Michelle Footer

The future of Section 21 Notices

In April 2019 the Government announced a proposal to scrap Section 21 Notices, which if implemented would represent a potential large scale change in the private rental sector.

The reason behind the proposal is to provide greater protection for residential tenants and longer term stability.  The current procedure allows landlords to recover their properties without too much difficulty.

The law as it stands allows a landlord to serve what is called a Section 21 Notice which terminates an Assured Shorthold Tenancy at or after the contractual term of the tenancy agreement has come to an end. This is a no fault notice where a landlord gives a tenant two months’ notice that they require the return of their property. Should the tenant not leave by the date specified in the notice then the landlord is entitled to apply to the Court for an order for possession. It is a mandatory ground for possession and the Court is obliged to grant a possession order provided that the landlord has complied with various conditions.

The proposed change would see this process scrapped entirely and it is thought, although the proposed scheme has not made it entirely clear, that a landlord would only be able to recover possession of their property if the tenant was in breach of their tenancy agreement or at fault in some other manner as set out within Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.  Many believe that if the scrapping of Section 21 Notices goes ahead an additional change would be necessary to the Section 8 procedure to allow landlords to serve notice on their tenants if they wanted to sell or move in to the property.

Private landlords have further commented that scrapping Section 21 Notices would prevent them from managing and using their properties in the manner they envisaged when their properties were purchased and many have said that the proposed scheme is unworkable and could threaten the supply of rental properties in the UK. It is also likely that landlords will become more selective about who they rent their properties to and may make it more difficult for some tenants to secure a rental property.

On the other hand there are those that support the proposal saying that it will create more long term stability for tenants and allow them to have certainty about their future living arrangements. They also consider that it would eliminate retaliatory evictions by rogue landlords.

The Government consultation closed on 12 October 2019 and they are now presumably reviewing the responses which they have received and will then decide whether to press ahead with the plans to scrap the Section 21 procedure, amend or overhaul it, or simply leave it as it stands. With mention in the recent Queens speech of new measures being taken to protect tenants it seems that the property industry might not have too long to wait to find out how the Government intends to proceed.  Watch this space for further updates.

For more information please contact Michelle Footer in our property litigation team on 020 7288 4782 or by e-mail at MichelleFooter@boltburdon.co.uk.

You can also contact one of our other solicitors in the Property Disputes team here.

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