Since its introduction the Housing Act 1988 has enabled private landlords to use ‘no fault evictions’ to repossess their properties, even when the tenants have not given them any cause for an eviction.  The government is now committed to a Bill that will end no fault evictions but what will the changes to ‘no fault eviction’ mean for landlords?

Up until now Section 21 evictions has given landlords the right to repossess a property. 

This has provided a level of reassurance as landlords know they can regain possession of their rental properties at relatively short notice.  However, this has never sat well with tenants.   Many have criticised the existence of no fault evictions because it is felt they place tenants at a higher risk of homelessness.

Some even believe less scrupulous landlords have used Section 21 to get rid of tenants who have complained about poor living conditions rather than rectifying these conditions.

Whatever the reasons for the new Bill, once it passes into law, the picture for landlords will be very different.  We’d like to look at how things will change and what these changes will mean for landlords.

What is a no fault eviction?

A no fault or Section 21 eviction gives landlords the ability to evict a tenant without giving a specific reason as long as the proper notice has been given.

Currently landlords can only serve a Section 21 notice to expire at the end of, or beyond, the expiry of the contractual term of the tenancy. Although a Section 21 notice may be served at any time, a court cannot order possession of the property until a minimum of 6 months from the start of the original tenancy has passed. This means tenants can be evicted even if they haven’t necessarily done anything wrong or breached their tenancy agreement in any way, as long as the initial fixed term has ended and at least 6 months has passed.

The government’s plan to abolish no fault evictions will mean landlords will only be able to evict tenants if they can show the tenant has triggered one of the 17 grounds for eviction set out in the Housing Act 1988.  These include rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, and damage to the property. However, the final legislative provisions will not be confirmed until the Bill finally becomes law.

These changes are part of wider measures designed to improve tenants’ rights.  According to the government, their objective is to give tenants greater security in a bid to reduce the number of people being forced to move home frequently and unnecessarily.

Are the changes a good thing?

It really depends on which side of the fence you sit.

For landlords, the changes can be seen as yet another obstacle.  The end of no fault evictions will make it more difficult to remove problem tenants.  When there are solid grounds for an eviction, landlords will need to expend more time and effort to prove these grounds exist.

However, from the rental market perspective, the changes could well be positive.  They could force problem landlords to move their interests into other lines of business and encourage more responsible landlords to take their place. 

For tenants, the end of no fault evictions has to be a huge positive.

It gives renters much more stability as the risk of unexpected eviction is massively reduced.  The fact the grounds for eviction now need to be proven by landlords trying to evict them should provide them with even greater security.

What does the end of no fault evictions mean for landlords?

Once no fault evictions are no longer an option, it will be harder for landlords to evict tenants. 

However, under Section 8 landlords will still be able to evict tenants as long as there are valid reasons (for example anti-social behaviour, non-payment of rent or damage to the property) or repossess the property if they either want to sell it or if they or their family needs to move in.

The final proposals covering the terms under which the property can be repossessed for sale or family purposes are yet to be published.  At this stage it looks likely these terms will include the need to provide tenants with two months’ notice and the inability to use these new grounds for eviction during the first six months of a tenancy.

In conclusion, the impact the end of no fault evictions will have on you will depend on whether you are a landlord or a tenant.  The one thing we can be sure of is that the end of no fault evictions will have a significant impact on the UK rental market. 

Tenants will receive greater security, but landlords may well need to adapt the way they operate which could, in turn, have financial and legal implications.  This means that in order to be successful,  both sides will need to accept the changes and work together to use the new legislation to their mutual benefit. 

If you would like advice on evicting tenants in light of these reforms, please contact the specialist property barristers in our Civil Law team today.

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