Government to End No-Fault Evictions in England
Renters in England rejoice – landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice without good reason under new plans outlined by the Government.
‘No-fault evictions’ is the name given to Section 21 notices, something which landlords can use to evict tenants with as little as eight weeks’ notice after their fixed-term tenancy period ends. Landlords can use this notice to evict tenants without any real reason, causing havoc to people’s lives.
The ban comes as Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, said that there is evidence that suggests that these kinds of evictions are one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.
Under Section 21, private landlords can evict tenants without reason with just two months’ notice, even if they have been paying rent and taking care of the property. The ban hopes to protect good tenants from speedy evictions, transforming the lives of people who could end up homeless as a result of such evictions.
Aside from tenants having to rush to find a new home, Section 21 has also created a problem in that tenants may not feel safe complaining about disrepair or poor conditions of their property for fear of being evicted. A survey by Citizens Advice suggests that tenants who made a formal complaint had a 46% chance of being issued with a Section 21 eviction notice within the next six months.
Whilst statistics can be difficult to gage, due to most tenants leaving their property as soon as they receive their eviction letter and not mounting a challenge, available statistics suggest that the use of Section 21 notices have risen sharply since 2011.
The ban hopes to bring security to tenants and protect them from ‘unethical’ landlords. Of the proposed ban, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Everyone renting in the private sector has the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence.
“But millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.
“This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. Landlords will still be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reasons to do so, but they will no longer be able to unexpectedly evict families with only eight weeks’ notice.
“This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.”
However, some landlords oppose the change. The National Landlords Association (NLA) said that its members were sometimes forced to use Section 21 to evict bad tenants, as they had “no confidence” in the courts to deal with Section 8 applications “quickly and surely”.
Section 8 possession notices evict people who have broken the terms on their tenancy, such as by not paying rent. However, these can involve landlords taking legal action in court if the tenants refuse to leave, which they must pay for themselves.
The NLA suggests that Section 21 helps to speed the process of eviction of bad tenants, and that the supposed ban would create a system of indefinite tenancies by the “back door”, and that a better move would be to improve Section 8 and the court process.
For most, the move comes as positive news for renters across the country. If the proposal goes ahead, these are the expected changes:
- Landlords will need to give a concrete reason to evict a tenant – i.e. a tenant causing damage or not paying rent – and provide evidence of this.
- Landlords will be able to use different rules to sell or move into their property – Section 8 will be strengthened to allow landlords to regain the property, they would need to give their tenants two months’ notice in writing.
- The court processes to evict rule-breaking tenants will be sped up, so landlords can regain their properties more quickly if their tenants are causing damage.
Similar plans to eliminate Section 21 have already been announced for Wales, and in Scotland similar new rules requiring landlords to give a reason for evictions was introduced in 2017.
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