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The Government confirmed its intentions to repeal Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in the May 2021 Queen's Speech, as originally set out in the Renters' Reform Bill, released in late 2019. An outline for the proposals will be released in Autumn 2021, which will consider the response to the consultation that took place before the pandemic. The abolition of Section 21 would put an end to so-called “no-fault evictions” as part of its on-going project to create longer tenancies. The government also announced concurrent plans to strengthen the grounds for repossession under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.
In normal circumstances, when the extended notice periods are not in place, landlords can evict their tenants under Section 21 by providing them with two months’ notice once their fixed-term contract has come to an end. Landlords aren’t required to provide their tenants with a reason for eviction, hence the term “no-fault” eviction. In contrast, to serve a Section 8 notice, the landlord needs to prove that the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement.
The proposed changes, as originally set out in the Renters' Reform Bill, included in the briefing notes to the Queen's Speech in 2019, are to remove Section 21, which means landlords will always need to provide their tenants with a reason for ending a tenancy, for example, breach of contract or wanting to sell the property. Tenants will be able to choose to end the tenancy, as long as they provide sufficient notice to the landlord.
In addition to removing Section 21, the government has also proposed introducing new Section 8 grounds, which will strengthen the rights of landlords who want to recover their properties, including when they want to sell or move into the property themselves. The government has also said that it plans to work with the Ministry of Justice and the Courts and Tribunal Service on reforming the court processes for possession.
However, the government will consider limiting the use of these new Section 8 grounds until the tenancy has lasted for two years. They do note there has been “no consensus” around mandating a tenancy length. A previous consultation found tenants preferred different tenancy lengths depending on their circumstances, whilst landlords favoured the status quo. The government has also said any legislation around changes to tenancy lengths will be “accompanied by appropriate safeguards for landlords”.
There is no proposed date for when the changes could come into effect, though, if we look to recent legislation changes, such as the Tenant Fees Act, as a guide, this could take between 18 months to two years. Before the changes can become law, a new consultation on the proposed changes will need to take place, followed by publication and consideration of the consultation document. The new legislation will then need to be drafted and make its way through Parliament.
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