The Government’s plans to ban so-called “no-fault” evictions has caused controversy since its announcement in April, with landlords groups claiming it will push up rents and shrink the supply of rental homes.
Under the plans to abolish Section 21, landlords will no longer be allowed to evict tenants without a reason, with two months’ notice, after their fixed-term tenancy ends.
Landlords will still be able to take possession of homes they plan to sell or move into themselves under strengthened section 8 legislation, previously only used to evict tenants who have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said removing section 21 would provide security to the growing number of families renting in the private sector, citing fears that it was the biggest cause of family homelessness.
It also aims to cut down on “revenge evictions”, where unscrupulous landlords use the existing law to remove tenants who make complaints about housing conditions.
But landlords say there is already adequate legal protection for tenants to prevent such evictions, and the new rules will make it increasingly difficult to remove tenants who fail to pay their rent or cause anti-social behaviour.
Landlord groups say many property owners resort to using Section 21 when evicting such tenants because they have no confidence in the court process, which can often be costly, involved in Section 8 evictions.
Despite assurances that the court process for Section 8 evictions will become quicker, landlords are unconvinced, with the average time taken to repossess a property currently more than five months.
Without the quicker and easier Section 21 method, the new landlord legislation could lead to more cases coming to court, rather than fewer, which could increase delays unless court resources are significantly bolstered.
This, say landlords would increase costs further, with rent rises an inevitable consequence.
There are also concerns that the new law for landlords will result in a reduction in supply, with many owners considering reducing their portfolios when Section 21 is removed.
In a survey of 6,500 property owners and agents by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), 46 per cent said they planned to sell up.
RLA policy director David Smith said a new, dedicated “housing court” should be set up to speed up the overly complex current repossession system, with the increased use of easily accessible mediation.
“Whilst the system should clearly be fair to tenants, it also needs to support and encourage good landlords,” he added.
“This needs to be underpinned by a court system that is fit for purpose and properly resourced. At present, it is neither.”
How to evict a tenant under the new legislation:
- Landlords will no longer be able to issue Section 21, “no-fault” eviction notices.
- Landlords must use Section 8 and give a reason to evict a tenant, such as causing damage, anti-social behaviour, or rent arrears, and provide evidence.
- Section 8 will now include provision for landlords wishing to sell or move into their property, by giving two months’ notice in writing.