The Government is planning to introduce changes to the law so that tenants will have greater protection. The proposed reforms might even lead to the abolition of Section 21 Notices. This refers to Notices served under Section 21 of the Housing Act.
Currently, landlords of periodic Assured Shorthold Tenants have an automatic right to possession after serving one of these Notices. These Notices can be served even though the tenant has not breached the tenancy in any way. This is why they are sometimes referred to as ‘no fault’ evictions. Section 21 Notices are the main way that landlords in the private rented sector obtain possession orders and then evict tenants. There are currently 4.4 million households in the private rented sector in England, making it the second largest tenure (19 per cent of households) so this proposal will affect the rights of a lot of people. The Notices always had to be for two months, but this period required has been changed at different stages during the Covid Pandemic. From 1st June the period is now four months. A Tenant should always obtain advice if they receive one of these Section 21 Notices- there are often defences that can be put forward. That said, landlords often use this procedure to gain possession and then evict tenants. Abolishing these Notices would enormously increase the rights of these tenants in their homes.
The Government uses the Queens Speech to set out their programme of proposed changes to the law. In May 2021 the Queen said; “My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent.” The Government also issued a statement stating that they are “committed to … having a Better Deal for Renters in England. Later this year we will publish our consultation response on reforming tenancy law to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and improve security for tenants in the private rented sector, as well as strengthening repossession grounds for landlords when they have valid cause.” What seems to be being suggested is scrapping the Section 21 Notices (and evictions) when the tenant has not been at fault in any way, whilst at the same time making it easier for landlords to obtain possession orders when there have been breaches.
We will have to wait to see what the proposals are in detail when they are published. Also, following publication, groups representing landlords and those representing tenants will be trying to influence the eventual change in the law. It could therefore be a couple of years before there is a change or abolition of the Section 21 Notices but it does look like there are significant changes on the horizon.
David Still, Solicitor
Posted on Monday, 21st June 2021