Date: April 30, 2019
Biggest shake-up of repossession of rented property in over 30 years

The English government has said it will review and make radical changes to the repossession of rented property in England. The ability of landlords to give two months’ notice under a Section 21 notice, called the ‘no fault eviction’ will be abolished. Other means of repossession and court processes will be changed.

Key Points

  • Ability of landlords to give a tenant two months’ notice to regain possession of a property (Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act) will be removed.
  • Other existing forms of repossession (Section 8 of the 1988 Housing Act) will be reviewed.
  • It is likely that the new laws will only allow landlords to regain possession for a limited number of reasons: Landlord is selling a property; anti-social behaviour of tenants; rent arrears; landlord wishing to move back into a property and other breaches of the tenancy agreement.
  • Review to include court processes.
  • New laws will take 2 to 5 years to be fully introduced, taking until 2021 to 2024.

What is included in the review?

The review will include:

Scrapping section 21 – This piece of housing law allows landlords to gain possession of a property by giving two month’s notice. If the tenant fails to vacate then the landlord must gain possession of the property through the courts. However, if all the Section 21 paperwork is completed and served correctly the repossession can be processes without a court hearing in front of a judge.

Review of Section 8 – This is another way for landlords to gain possession but only for a limited number of reasons. Enforcement of section 8 requires a hearing in front of a judge. Section 8 is not compulsory, and the judge has the power to grant or refuse repossession of the property.

Review of court processes – The review will look at the current court systems to ensure they support the new laws that will be created. The government may be considering a dedicated housing court.

What is a ‘no fault’ eviction?

When using the Section 21 notice a landlord doesn’t have to give a reason for repossession and for this reason it is called a ‘no fault eviction’.

What are the most likely changes?

It is expected that landlords in the future will only be able to repossses a property for a limited number of reasons. These could include:

  • Landlord selling a property
  • Anti-social behaviour of tenants
  • Rent arrears
  • Landlord moving back into a property
  • Other breaches of the tenancy agreement

What will happen in Wales?

Housing is handled separately by the English and Welsh governments.

The English government and the Welsh government have both said they will have separate consultations and separate laws will be created for England and Wales.

When will the review start?

It is expected the review will start with a consultation to take place some time in the summer or autumn of 2019.

The consultation will last 8 weeks.

When will new laws come into force?

The quickest timetable for changes is as follows:

  • Consultation of 8 weeks in summer 2019
  • 6 to 9 months for the government to respond to the consultation
  • 1 year for new laws to be passed by government
  • 1 to 3 years for staged introduction of laws

The government may have to allow for a staged introduction of the new laws. This could mean that a new Section 8 and new court processes are introduced before Section 21 is abolished.

The whole process could take 2 to 5 years to complete taking until 2021 to 2024.

Are there any immediate changes?

Section 21 will be affected by the Tenant Fees Act coming into effect on 1st June 2019. If a landlord attempts to charge a banned fee, then a Section 21 cannot be completed.  

Other than the Tenant Fees Act, the current Section 21, Section 8 and court systems will remain unchanged until the new legislation is introduced.

Summary

The English government will be changing how landlords can repossess rented properties.

The landlord’s ability to give two months’ notice to tenants to regain possession (Section 21 notice) will be scrapped. The Section 8 notice and court processes will also be reviewed.

It is likely that the new laws will only allow landlords to repossess properties for a limited number of reasons. Most probably these reasons will include:

  • Landlord selling a property
  • Anti-social behaviour of tenants
  • Rent arrears
  • Landlord wishing to move back into a property
  • Other breaches of the tenancy agreement.

The new laws will come into effect in 2 to 5 years time (not until 2021 to 2024).

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