Currently, section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to evict tenants after 6 months of tenancy, with 2 months’ notice, if the fixed term has expired. It is often called a ‘no fault’ eviction.
In a white paper published on 16.06.22, the government announced that it will be abolishing section 21 evictions in order to provide better security for tenants. Going forward, in order to evict a tenant, landlords are going to need to prove a ‘valid ground for possession’.
At first glance, this appears to be an Orwellian restriction on the landlord’s rights in respect of their own properties. In the white paper, it has been confirmed that there will no longer be assured or assured short-hold tenancies, the new system will consist of only periodic tenancies with the landlord’s methods for faultlessly ending a tenancy being tied firmly behind their back.
However, there is still hope on the horizon insofar as further grounds for possession will be introduced. One of these will operate similarly to section 21 where after 6 months, with a notice, landlords can utilise a ground to recover their property to sell it or to move into the property. A further, and far more useful, ground being introduced is one for ‘repeated serious arrears’. If a tenant has been in at least 2 months’ arrears three times within the past 3 years, eviction will be made on a mandatory basis. This development will be particularly useful when dealing with tenants with prior form for reducing their arrears just before the possession hearing.
Whilst the abolition of section 21 is a disappointing development in the law, it does appear that the government intends to taper the prejudice to landlords by creating new and further grounds for possession. We will also be watching with keen interest to see what the Courts and government will find to be ‘good reasons’ for evictions whilst balancing the interests of tenants and landlords.
At present, there does not appear to be a firm date for these changes to be implemented.