Section 21 in England and Section 173 in Wales

Renters’ Reform Bill to abolish Section 21 in England

At the state opening of Parliament on 19 December 2019, the Queen’s Speech announced a Renters’ Reform Bill that will abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and reforming the grounds for possession.

The Queen's Speech 2019

What is the UK Government proposing?

  1. Abolishing the use of ‘no-fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and reforming the grounds for possession
  2. Give landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the courts where there is a legitimate need for them to do so by reforming current legislation.
  3. Work to improve the court process for landlords to make it quicker and easier for them to get their property back.

David Cox

David Cox
Former ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive

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'In the absence of any meaningful plan to boost the level of social housing in this country, the announcement confirming the abolition of Section 21 in today’s Queen's speech is another attack against the landlords who actually house the nation. 

'If Section 21 is scrapped, Section 8 must be reformed, and a new specialist housing tribunal created. Without this, supply will almost certainly fall which will have the consequential effect of raising rents and will further discourage new landlords from investing in the sector.

'ARLA Propertymark will be engaging with the Government to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes, and we will be scrutinising the legislation, to ensure landlords have the ability to regain their properties if needed'.

A New Deal for Renting: Resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between Landlords and Tenants

The UK Government launched a consultation in July 2019 seeking views on implementing the removal Section 21 in England, as well as improving Section 8's eviction grounds. We submitted a comprehensive response to the Government’s consultation on planned changes to the eviction process in England.

Our response 

Changes to the current system should only take place following the development of specialist housing courts and mandatory grounds allowing landlords to regain possession of their property—they must be fair to both tenants and landlords.

To mitigate any negative impacts of the proposals, the Government must:

  1. Introduce a Housing Court: to ensure that the proposals are workable the Government must consider introducing a Housing Court or adequately resource and amend the existing Courts system.
  2. Use a technological solution: possession claims must be digitised and taken online.
  3. Create mandatory grounds: all grounds for possession both existing and new should be made mandatory in order to effectively compensate for the removal of Section 21.
  4. Ensure automatic High Court Enforcement: landlords must be given an automatic right to have their Possession Order executed by a High Court Enforcement Officer.
  5. Implement a pilot scheme: before a national rollout of the proposals, a pilot scheme must be administered to evaluate the effectiveness of the new system.

WALES: Proposals on extending the notice period for a ‘no-fault eviction’

The equivalent of a Section 21 notice for periodic tenancies in Wales (also described as occupation contracts) is a Section 173 notice, and for fixed-term tenancies it's a Section 186 notice. Whilst the Housing Act 1988 still applies to tenancies in Wales, the Welsh Government has consulted on amending the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 before it comes into force and is looking to increase the minimum notice period for a ‘no-fault' eviction.

What is the Welsh Government proposing?

  • Extending the minimum notice period of a Section 173 notice from two months to six
  • Extending the period from when a Section 173 notice can be issued from four months to six
  • Limiting Section 173 from being issued again following expiry for six months
  • Abolishing no-fault evictions for fixed-term tenancies by removing the Section 186 notice
  • Removing the landlord’s use of a break clause during a fixed-term
  • Measures to limit a landlord from issuing another Section 173 notice for six months when the previous was issued in retaliation
  • Limiting the issuing of notices where landlords haven’t complied with relevant legislation

David Cox

David Cox
Former ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive

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'Extending notice periods to six months is absurd. It means that landlords will have to wait half a year before they can start court proceedings, which then takes 22 weeks on average before the tenant is actually evicted. Therefore, this means that tenants could build up almost a year in rent arrears before a Possession Order is enforced; potentially causing landlords to be repossessed by their mortgage lender.

'In another example, if the tenant is being evicted for anti-social behaviour, these proposals mean that neighbours would be forced to endure up to 12 months of the tenant from hell. This is illogical and will only damage the sector and local communities'.

Increasing the minimum notice period for a 'no-fault' eviction

The Welsh Government launched a consultation on 11 July 2019 asking for views on increasing the notice a landlord must give when seeking to end a contract. In our response we made it clear that landlords do not use Section 21 notices without reason. Due to possession being guaranteed, and quicker timescales than when a Section 8 with grounds for eviction has been used, on the rare occasion that a landlord does use a Section 21 it is usually for tenant rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.

Our response News article