Stratford upon Avon T: 01789 293259
Henley in Arden T: 01564 792261
Cheltenham T: 01242 228370
Birmingham T: 0121 200 0890

A new deal for renting in the private and social sector

The government has announced plans to reform laws which allow residential landlords to give tenants notice to end their tenancies, Lodders’ Dispute Resolution solicitor, Lauren Smith, explains.

Under the new suggested framework, a tenant could not be evicted from their home without good reason, therefore abolishing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (“the Act”). The Government has also proposed to strengthen Section 8 evictions, meaning landlords are able to regain their property should they wish to sell it or move into it themselves.

Background

At present, in order to evict a tenant with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) under the Act, a landlord can deploy either a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice.

Currently, a Section 8 notice can be used when a tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy, amongst other grounds, and can be issued before the fixed term of the tenancy has expired.

A Section 21 notice does not require any of the terms of the AST to have been breached, but can only be used to gain possession of a property after the fixed term of the AST has ended, or if the tenancy has no fixed end date, so is periodic.

In the Executive Summary to the Government’s consultation paper, the main concern was over the current operation of Section 21. It was highlighted that tenants feel vulnerable in their homes even when they have been model occupants.

Proposed changes to tenancies

The Government is proposing to remove ASTs from the Act, so private and social landlords would only be able to offer Assured Tenancies. This would mean tenancies will either be fixed-term, or contractual periodic Assured Tenancies.

Under the proposals, tenants will still be able to end tenancies by giving notice, but only at the end of a fixed term, or during a period tenancy, unless the tenancy agreement includes a break clause. A fixed-term tenancy terminated by a tenant or by a landlord using Section 8 could either be renewed or would become periodic.

This would mean that the government would abolish Section 21 completely, offering protection to tenants who are facing eviction without fault. Realistically, this would only be possible if Section 8 is improved. The likely concern for landlords is that repealing Section 21 completely will make it much harder to regain possession of their dwellings.

Improvements

The government has suggested several improvements to the grounds on which landlords can serve notice to tenants in the Section 8 process, including:

  • Introducing a new ground when the landlord wants to sell the property, and widening the current ground if the landlord or their families want to move into the property;
  • Amending the current rent arrears ground, so it requires there to be two months’ arrears when serving a notice, and providing for just one months’ arrears at the time of the hearing;
  • Strengthening antisocial behavior grounds for possession;
  • Strengthening the current ground in relation to tenants routinely refusing access to the property for repairs and safety checks.

At present, it is still unknown whether these suggested improvements will be implemented by the government, or whether any additional improvements will also be added. It is expected that any changes will come into force between late 2020 and early 2021.

The Government has advised that the changes will not be retrospective, so any existing ASTs will not be affected. However, once the tenancy comes to an end, any new agreement will be an Assured Tenancy.

Moving forward

One reassurance for landlords is that the Courts and Tribunal Service Possession Reform Project plans to introduce an online application system, which has already been shown to improve the process for divorce claims. This is hoped to reduce the delays, rejections, and rescheduling that currently arise from application errors.

Whatever the final decisions are regarding the redrafting of this area of legislation, it is essential that all landlords and tenants understand the risks they are facing, and the rights and protections that they can rely upon before either party sign a tenancy agreement.

This blog is for information and entertainment purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you are affected or are likely to be affected by the current legislation or any changes to it, Lodders’ expert property team can offer you the support and specialist advice that you need. For more information, please contact Lauren Smith on 01789 206146, or via email.

Dispute Resolution online webinar series – book your...
Posted on 11th September 2020 in Events and webinars
Read full article
Survey: help us shape our service to you
Posted on 16th July 2020 in The Lodders Blog
Read full article
June Quarter Day – Landlord & Tenant webinar now...
Posted on 9th June 2020 in The Lodders Blog
Read full article

If you’re a journalist looking for more information about Lodders, or to discuss a press release, please contact:
Diane Wood, V Formation on 07887 794507 or by email

Get in touch...

To find out more, please contact Lauren Smith on 01789 206146, or via email.