News & Insights

No-fault evictions: Time is ticking…

Did you know that the law on no-fault evictions could be changing soon? Do you need to get your property back this year? You may wish to act now.

Currently, a landlord can evict a tenant under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. If the landlord has complied with their statutory obligations, the process should be relatively straightforward and allows a landlord to bring an Assured Shorthold Tenancy to an end by providing two months’ notice. This method of gaining possession is often known as the “no-fault” procedure. It allows a landlord to end the tenancy even if the tenant has not breached the terms of that tenancy.

A landlord can also evict a tenant under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This process is, currently, less straightforward and is often fraught with complexities. At least one of the grounds under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 must be met before a notice can be served. For example the tenant may be in breach of a term of the tenancy or in significant arrears of rent. A section 8 notice can give between 2 weeks’ and 2 months’ notice depending on which ground the landlord is relying.

Following an initial Government consultation and its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, there is a lot of talk about the new Renters’ Reform Bill. The Bill proposes to reform the current law in the hope of achieving a fairer and more effective rental market. Some of the main proposals include reforming the above laws in relation to the possession processes.

What is changing?

The main proposals of the Bill are as follows:

  1. Section 21 is to be removed, thus abolishing “no-fault” evictions.
  2. Reform of the grounds for possession under Schedule 2 on which landlords can rely to serve a section 8 notice.
  3. Improvement of the court process with the aim of providing a quicker process when a landlord has established a ground for possession of their property.
  4. Introduction of a lifetime deposit that moves with the tenant when they move to a new house.
  5. Development of a database for rogue landlords and property agents and wider access to the database.

The most important proposals for the purposes of this article are the first two, relating to the abolition of “no-fault” evictions and the possession of a rented property.

The Government has outlined the benefits that the proposals would bring following their implementation. By abolishing the “no-fault” eviction process, the Government hopes to improve tenants’ “security of tenure” as they will have greater protection and will be empowered to hold their landlords to account without fear of eviction. In relation to point 2, the Government say that landlords’ rights will be strengthened through the addition of new grounds for possession, including where a landlord wishes to sell their property without a sitting tenant, although it is not entirely certain how the new proposed grounds will be framed.

The Government appear to be attempting to strike a new balance between a landlord’s right to their property and security afforded to the tenant to remain in their home.

What could this mean for you?

If you are a landlord, the Government’s proposals could mean that to gain possession of your property, from your residential tenant, you will have to use a different notice and rely on the tenant being in “default”. This is unless the Government widens the scope of Schedule 2 to include “no-fault” grounds, such as wanting to sell up.

It remains to be seen how effective the proposed changes will be in striking the difficult balance between a landlord’s entitlement to deal with their property and protecting a tenant.

Although a date has yet to be set for the second reading of the Bill, it is best to be proactive and ensure that you are not left in the dark. There are steps that you can take to protect your position and your property.

If you would like more information on this developing topic or would like to take precautionary steps, please contact Mark Banham.