Section 21 evictions allow landlords to repossess their residential properties let under assured shorthold tenancies without having to give a reason for wanting the tenant(s) to leave, which is why such evictions are commonly referred to as ‘no fault’ evictions.
S21 of the Housing Act 1988 requires a landlord to provide two months’ notice to a tenant of their intention to repossess their property and if the tenant fails to vacate the property by the expiry of the notice and all other legal requirements have been met then the landlord may apply to the court for an order for possession to evict the tenant.
The White Paper, ‘A fairer private rented sector’ published on 16 June 2022 sets out the government’s plans to reform the private rented sector via the Renters Reform Bill. As part of their ‘12-point plan of action’ to create a private rented sector that is ‘fit for the 21st century’, the Government have expressed their commitment to abolishing s21 evictions, the effects of which may be detrimental to landlords in the private rented sector.
Why is there a demand to abolish s21 evictions?
One of the reasons for abolishing s21 evictions is due to the belief that landlords are evicting tenants unfairly. As landlords do not need a reason to evict, they may choose to do so at their will, which leaves tenants vulnerable to being forced out of their home unsuspectedly and without provocation.
Additionally, s21 evictions arguably give landlords an easy way out of tackling issues and resolving problems by choosing to evict the tenants instead. This aligns with the suggestion that many tenants have been too afraid to make demands of their landlords because it could lead to the landlord evicting them to save hassle. This consequently leads to tenants, for example, enduring poor housing conditions out of fears they could become homeless as a consequence of a s21 eviction.
Statistics published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for January-March 2022 demonstrate that households at risk of homelessness due to a s21 eviction rose by 142% from the same period last year, which arguably demonstrates that tenants’ fears of the implications of s21 evictions are well-founded.
What will the reform involve?
S21 notices will be abolished and all tenants who would previously have had an assured shorthold tenancy or assured tenancy will be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies. This will mean that a tenancy may only end if a tenant decides to end it or the landlord may decide to evict a tenant in ‘reasonable circumstances’, which will be defined in legislation.
If a tenant wishes to end the tenancy then they will have to provide two months’ notice to the landlord, which aims to provide the landlord with sufficient time to find a new tenant and minimises void periods.
How will the end of s21 evictions effect the private rented sector?
Although speculative, the end of s21 evictions could cause landlords to avoid investing in further property due to the process of regaining possession of their property being made more complex under the scheduled reforms. It may even cause some landlords to sell their currently owned properties to avoid future issues with repossession.
However, some believe that ending s21 evictions is a step towards rebalancing the current power imbalance between landlords and tenants and will offer more security to tenants, encouraging prospective tenants to decide to enter the private rented sector.
S21 evictions will remain permitted by law until the Renters Reform Bill comes into force, the date of which is currently unknown. However, the bill will be introduced in the 2022-2023 parliamentary session. Therefore, landlords that intend to regain possession of their property in the near future need to be mindful of the upcoming reforms and consider taking necessary action as soon as possible.
If you require advice on regaining your property or any residential property disputes then you can contact me on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.