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Could no fault eviction become a thing of the past?

View profile for Helen Porter
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On the 15th April 2019, the Government announced proposals to repeal section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which provides a no fault procedure for a landlord to recover possession of their tenanted property.  Were the proposals to proceed, the future of tenant evictions and repossessions would be drastically altered. Helen Porter, Partner in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, reviews the proposals and the steps landlords can take to protect their property in the future.

What is section 21 of the Housing Act 1988?

Under this section of the Housing Act 1988 (The Act), the process of recovering possession of their property does not require a landlord to prove an element of tenant default, but simply to show that the correct procedure has been followed and that certain documents have been provided to the tenant.

What are the proposals for changing section 21 of the Act?

The Government is planning to change the law so that landlords would have to provide a “concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law” in order to end tenancies.  This would create certainty and peace of mind for tenants that they cannot be evicted from their property for no fault of their own, however, removal of this ‘no fault’ procedure could pose a disadvantage to landlords who wish to seek possession of their property for reasons other than those set out under section 8 Housing Act 1988.

Many of the grounds provided under section 8 require an element of fault/default on the part of the tenant, meaning that the process of regaining possession is unlikely to be a smooth one; something which can be achieved under the section 21 procedure.  By virtue of the fact that these grounds often require the tenant to have fallen foul of their obligations under the tenancy agreement, landlords are also likely to incur additional costs once they have regained possession of the property (i.e. securing the property, repairing any damage, legal costs in enforcing any judgment debt).

The proposal to repeal section 21 will come as another blow to landlords who are being deterred from letting out their properties following the legislation that comes into force on 1 June 2019 whereby tenant fees are banned.

How should landlords act now ahead of the introduction of these proposals?

Landlords may find some solace in the fact that the Government has proposed to speed up the Court process for repossession of properties, and therefore allow landlords to have a smooth and effective means to regain possession. However, whether this will placate landlords is questionable as it is deemed that landlords need a procedure that will allow for the recovery of their properties even when a tenant is not at fault.

It is not currently clear what knock-on affects the proposed repeal may have on the rental sector, but the Government will shortly launch a new consultation on these proposals, collaborating with and listening to tenants, landlords and others in the private rental sector to develop a new deal for renting.  

If you are currently in dispute with a tenant and you are considering eviction, we would recommend you take steps sooner rather than later.  Our experienced team can help you find a resolution between you and your tenant or, if this is not possible, support you in taking the next steps to recover any rent due to you, or free your property to allow you to find adequate tenants.

Contact Laura or the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team on 023 8071 7412 or email laurablakemore@warnergoodman.co.uk to discuss your situation today.  

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.