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Are No Fault Evictions on the Out?

Published on 8 May 2019 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

The government consulted various stakeholders in the private-rented sector last year on whether to introduce minimum three-year tenancies for people renting, to better protect them from homelessness. They found that there was no consensus on a particular tenancy length. Tenants had different ideas based on their own individual circumstances and landlords preferred leaving things the way they are.

The government has now gone down a different route by proposing to end ‘no fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Under Section 21, landlords can get possession of their property without having to prove that a tenant did something wrong to justify their eviction. They just have to make sure they follow the correct procedure for possession. Obviously to suggest that landlords evict tenants for no reason is misleading and certainly doesn’t apply to all landlords. The government found in their English Private Landlord Survey 2018 that the most common reasons for evicting, asking a tenant to leave or not renewing a tenancy were due to rent arrears or the tenant not caring for the property, which are all valid reasons.

Repealing Section 21 will mean that landlords will no longer be able to use no fault evictions and will have to show they have a legitimate reason for evicting a tenant every time; but at this time, the grounds or reasons are stipulated by statute and do not necessarily cover all practical reasons as to why a Landlord would want to evict a tenant.

The government appear to have acknowledged this and also proposes to simultaneously:

  • Strengthen the grounds under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 by including other grounds for possession, including accounting for landlords who want to just sell their property or move in; and
  • Simplify court processes when seeking possession.

The government is to launch a consultation with all stakeholders in the private-rented sector as well as the Ministry of Justice and the Courts and Tribunal Service on the details of the proposals. Until the consultation is done and the government publishes its findings, nobody actually knows whether this is definitely going ahead. After all, they may decide against it as they did with the three-year tenancy proposal.

Whichever decision the government ultimately makes, it must ensure that it doesn’t inadvertently exacerbate the housing crisis. It may lead to Landlords exiting the market meaning that there are less rental properties, thus reducing supply and making it even harder for some tenants to find good accommodation. The proposed changes, rather than offering further security to the tenants, may have the reverse effect. Tenants and landlords alike will be waiting with bated breath.

If you would like advice and assistance on any aspect of a tenancy agreement whether as a landlord or tenant, please do not hesitate to contact the Poole Alcock Commercial and Civil Litigation team on 0800 470 0331. Alternatively you can visit our Litigation services page here or complete this form for a call back.

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