Much has been written in the press about the Government's proposal to shake up the process for a Landlord regaining possession of their property. Lettings Manager Lucy Nolan gives an update.
In April 2019, the Government sent shock-waves through the private rental network by announcing a proposal to abolish the use of Section 21 Notices. Not surprisingly, many Landlords have asked for our advice.
A Section 21 Notice enables a Landlord to evict a Tenant at the end of their tenancy by giving at least 2 months’ notice. The Landlord does not have to give any reason for requiring possession, and the process is often referred to as a “no-fault” eviction. If the Tenant does not vacate the property on the expiry of the Notice, the Landlord can then apply to the Court for a Possession Order.
If there has been a breach of the tenancy, a Landlord may take an alternative route to regain possession. A Section 8 Notice is served to the Tenant, upon the expiry of which, a Landlord can apply to the Court for possession if the tenant does not leave of their own free will. Specific grounds for service of a Section 8 Notice must be given, some are mandatory (e.g. rent arrears), whilst others are discretionary (e.g. anti-social behaviour) and therefore rely on a Judge’s decision whether or not to grant possession.
So, three decades after it was introduced under the Housing Act 1988, is a Section 21 still the best way to regain possession of a property? Possibly not, but it is a necessary step in the process of regaining possession. In 2018, there were just under 7000 evictions via Section 21 making up only 0.15% of all tenancies.
The proposals the Government has outlined make changes to the current eviction and possession processes. The proposals include a new Court system to enable a Landlord to have a speedier repossession, but only in very specific cases, for example, where the Tenant is in arrears or where there are other genuine breaches of the tenancy agreement. Landlords would need to provide evidence to support their claim for possession.
The Government held a consultation in the Autumn of 2019, to which ARLA, NAEA, RICS member agents and Landlords were given the opportunity to air their views to help shape this legislation.
As with all proposed legislation changes, there is a process to be followed before it can become law. The Tenant Fees Act 2019 took two and half years to be passed, and although we now have a ‘settled’ government in Westminster, it may yet be some time before we see any changes come into effect.