GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS FOR SECTION 21

The UK Government and the Welsh Government have recently proposed changes to Section 21. Which proposals are you interested in?

Parliament

Proposals to abolish Section 21 in England

On 15 April 2019, the Communities Secretary announced that private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason. This announcement was part of the Government's response to the Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector consultation.

What is the Government proposing?

1

Landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end.

2

Ministers will amend the Section 8 eviction process, so property owners are able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.

3

Court processes will also be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property in the rare event of tenants falling into rent arrears or damaging the property.

What are we saying

“The effects of the tenant fees ban have not yet been felt, and now the Government is introducing more new legislation which could deter landlords from operating in the market. Although in the majority of cases there is no need for Section 21 to be used, there are times when a landlord has no choice but to take action and evict tenants from a property.

“Landlords need the safety of no-fault evictions and removing Section 21 takes this away. Until we have greater clarity on the changes planned for Section 8, today’s news will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing in buy-to-let properties. This comes at a time when demand is dramatically outpacing supply and rent costs are rising.”

David Cox, Chief Executive ARLA Propertymark

Consultation on Tenancy Reform in England

On 21 July 2019, the Government launched a consultation seeking views on implementing their decision to remove Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and improving Section 8 eviction grounds.

The consultation seeks views on:

  • The impact of removing Assured Shorthold Tenancies.
  • Under which circumstance (if any) a tenancy should be ended without fault of the tenant.
  • If the proposed reforms to the Housing Act 1988 should reflect the private rented sector and social rented sector.
  • How existing grounds for possession can be used more effectively or reformed.
  • How new grounds should be added where the landlord wants to sell or move into the property.
  • How Section 8 possession orders can be considered more effectively by the courts.

ARLA Propertymark has provided a comprehensive response to the consultation.

Read our response 

Parliament

Proposals on extending the notice period in Wales

The Welsh Government has recently consulted on extending the notice period for the equivalent of a Section 21 eviction under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, which is yet to come into force.

Read our response

Whilst the Housing Act 1988 still applies to tenancies in Wales, the Welsh Government is consulting on amending the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 before it comes into force. The equivalent of a Section 21 notice for Periodic tenancies (or occupation contracts, as they are described in the legislation) is a Section 173 notice. For Fixed Term tenancies, the equivalent in a Section 186 notice.

The Welsh Government is looking into limiting the use of eviction notices without providing tenants with a reason and has proposed significant changes.

What are the proposed changes?

  • Extending the minimum notice period of a Section 173 notice for periodic tenancies from two months to six.
  • Extending the period from when a Section 173 notice can be issued from four months to six.
  • Limiting a Section 173 from being issued again following expiry for six months.
  • Abolishing no fault evictions for Fixed Term tenancies by removing Section 186.
  • 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.

What we said

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.

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 has less grounds for eviction than is provided by the Housing Act 1988, this means that landlords will have no means for evicting a tenant if they want to sell the property or move themselves or their family into the property or where a mortgage lender needs to regain possession. We believe that these instances must be included in the legislation as mandatory grounds for eviction.

The existing grounds for rent arrears need to be strengthened to ensure that tenants who regularly flout their responsibilities cannot “play the system” by continually paying off arrears at the last minute.

ARLA Propertymark has long called for the introduction of a specialist Housing Court for England and Wales. With the powers of the County Court and the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal, specialist Judges would make housing claims simpler.