The Queen’s Speech on 11 May 2022 announced plans to table the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill during the next Parliamentary session, which is expected to bring about a major rebalancing of the tenant/landlord relationship by abolishing Section 21 evictions.
The proposed amendment to the Housing Act 1988 will provide much-needed security for private tenants and tenants of Registered Providers across the country. Under the current system, tenants can be evicted for simply challenging unfair practices by their landlords, an issue that has long been an issue in the private sector.
To ensure that landlords’ rights of possession are not left unprotected, the Bill will also seek to reform and strengthen those rights, particularly in cases involving serious anti-social behaviour. This will be welcomed by landlords, who have long relied on Section 21 as a ‘no-fault’ eviction tool to ensure that properties can be returned where necessary.
From a landlord’s perspective, the abolition of Section 21 means that they are no longer guaranteed a possession order and must instead provide evidence of specific grounds for seeking possession, as outlined in Section 8 of the HA 1988. Furthermore, discretionary grounds for possession can be subject to additional requirements of proportionality and the Court could opt to give a tenant one last chance by means of a suspended possession order.
It remains to be seen how the Renters Reform Bill will affect the tenant/landlord relationship, but it is clear that the changes outlined in the Bill will provide a much-needed shift in the balance of power.
The Government's Repeal of Section 21: What Does It Mean for Landlords?
The UK government’s repeal of Section 21 has been a source of much debate, as it will have a significant effect on how landlords approach tenancy agreements. As such, landlords are understandably concerned about the impact the repeal will have on their tenancies.
The repeal of Section 21 means that landlords will no longer be able to pursue no-fault possession proceedings when seeking to end a tenancy. Instead, they will have to use Section 8, which comes with its own set of challenges - including the additional time, costs and evidential burden in seeking possession.
In response to this, the government has promised to strengthen the existing Section 8 grounds for possession, including introducing stronger grounds for repeated rent arrears and reducing antisocial behaviour notice periods. This is a welcome move, as the current cost of living crisis has made it increasingly difficult for landlords to manage rent arrears.
The government has also promised to make the court process for Section 8 proceedings more efficient, in order to make the process smoother and quicker for landlords. However, this will depend on the level of funding for the courts, as they are currently facing an ever-increasing backlog.
In addition, proposals are being put forward for circumstances where no-fault possession could be retained. For example, the National Housing Federation has suggested that registered providers should be able to pursue no-fault possession in relation to supported housing and temporary accommodation. This would ensure that landlords are not discouraged from providing these services due to the higher risk associated with the repeal of Section 21.
Ultimately, the repeal of Section 21 will have a big impact on landlords. While the government has promised to make the court process more efficient, landlords will still need to be aware of the additional costs and evidential burden associated with Section 8 proceedings.