The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has recently published its response to the government’s consultation last year on longer tenancies, and the proposals have sent shockwaves through the industry because of the announcement that the government intends to put an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
At present, serving a notice under section 21 to terminate assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) is favoured by landlords because it enables them to simply give tenants two months’ notice that they must vacate the property and no reason has to be specified for why they want the property back, hence section 21 notices being known as ‘no-fault’ notices.
The government’s response to last year’s consultation can be found here:
The MHCLG is going to repeal section 21 as the government wants to ‘create an environment where tenants can feel more empowered to challenge their landlord about poor property standards where this occurs without the fear of eviction for no specified reason.’ And the proposed reforms will mean that a landlord always has to give a reason for ending an AST.
While this is good news for tenants, it has caused some alarm to landlords as absent Section 21, landlords will have to serve what is known as a section 8 notice, in which landlords have to specify a ground (or grounds) on which they are entitled to possession and those grounds are quite limited. In recognition of that the MCHLG has announced that it intends to strengthen the section 8 possession process by adding two additional grounds. These will state that property owners can regain their home if they want to sell it, or move into it. They have also said that they will simplify the court processes to make it easier to gain possession through the courts.
While these announcements have understandably generated a lot of headlines and media interest, nothing is going to change in the near future. The next step is that the government is going to carry out a consultation on the details of a better system that will work for landlords and tenants, and work with the Ministry of Justice and the Courts and Tribunal Service to reform the court processes for possession. However, it is clear that changes are afoot and the mood is very much moving away from no-fault evictions and towards tenants having greater security of tenure.
Please note this applies to England only, however a similar proposal was announced recently by the Welsh First Minister.