In June, the government published the ‘fairer private rented sector white paper’ which outlined the details of the abolition of section 21. The paper explains the aim of creating a simpler tenancy structure by transitioning all tenancies to periodic – this means that the tenancy only ends if the tenant chooses to leave or if the landlord has a reasonable explanation to terminate the contract as defined by the law.
WHAT IS SECTION 21?
Section 21 is the ‘no-fault’ evictions which allows landlords to terminate a tenancy without giving a reason. Under section 21 landlords can provide 2 months’ notice once the fixed-term contract has finished. Whereas a landlord must prove that the tenants have broken the tenancy agreement under section 8.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO SECTION 21?
The Renters Reform Bill proposes the abolition of section 21 notices, putting an end to ‘no-fault evictions’. All tenancies will transition to periodic, which would provide longer-term tenancies.
IS SECTION 21 BEING REPLACED?
The government have proposed, in light of the abolition of section 21, that section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 be strengthened.
The government have said that the changes will not stop “responsible” landlords gaining possession of their properties from anti-social tenants and that they will be able to sell the property when they need to.
It is also proposed that they will strengthen processes around mediation and alternative dispute resolution considering the removal of section 21.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR LANDLORDS AND TENANTS?
There are an estimated 2.3 million private landlords in the UK and under the new rules landlords will have to provide an explanation for ending a tenancy every time. For example, this could be due to a breach of contract or the sale of the property.
Tenants will have to provide 2 months’ notice to the landlord to vacate.
The white paper around this outlines that student tenants are likely to benefit from this change. Some may not want to or be able to move out at the end of the academic year and they will now have the opportunity, as private renters, to stay longer and in secure and good standard accommodation.
In addition, the measures will provide landlords with greater clarity and support through the introduction of a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court. A new property portal will also be introduced that will help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.
The measures will also outlaw blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits and remove the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, as well as doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants more powers to challenge increases if they are unjustified. The white paper also sets out measures to give all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
WILL THE CHANGES TO SECTION 21 IMPACT TENANCY LENGTHS?
The new single system of all tenancies moving to periodic means that there will be no set end date on a tenancy.
In some instances, the landlord will not be able to evict the tenant during the first 6 months of the contract start date.