The government have recently announced plans to abolish the practice of landlords serving tenants Section 21 notices in order to address the uncertainty that tenants in the rental sector face.

On 15 April 2019, the government proposed a huge change to the private rental sector; the abolishment of Section 21 Notices.

At the current date, if a private landlord wishes to obtain possession of their property and terminate a fixed term contract they can do so by serving a Section 21 Notice on their tenant in accordance with the Housing Act 1988. In theory this enables the landlord to reclaim possession of their property as soon as 8 weeks after the notice has been served on their tenant. This process has been labelled by the government as a “no-fault” eviction. This is because a specific reason does not have to be given by the landlord to their tenant in the Section 21 Notice as to why they are seeking possession of their property.

If the government proceeds to abolish the Section 21 notice procedure, this will be one of the biggest changes the private rented housing sector will have seen in recent years. The reasoning behind the abolishment is to address the current problems in the private rental sector such as the insecurities tenants face by being evicted at short notice and protecting tenants from being evicted without proper reason. As part of the abolishment, landlords would be given more effective means to obtain possession of the property, however such means have not yet been confirmed.

As well as abolishing the Section 21 Notice, the Section 8 eviction process (which requires landlords to set out the grounds upon which they are relying upon to obtain possession) will also be amended so that when a landlord has a genuine reason to obtain possession of their property, such as when a tenant falls into rent arrears, they will be provided with the assurance they will be able to end the tenancy.

The government have also commented that the court proceedings landlords have to begin to regain their property will be expedited so the dispute can be resolved quickly. Such improvement to the court process is needed as in most instances, from serving a notice to actually obtaining possession of the property, with a court order, can take in excess of six months. This is mainly due to the extensive length of time between making the possession application to court, to appearing in front of a Judge. Improvements to the court process will provide landlords with confidence in the court system and that they can obtain possession of their property swiftly.

The government will shortly be launching its consultation on the proposed abolishment of the Section 21 procedure to listen to both landlords and tenants to develop a fairer and more equal private rental market compared to what is currently in place.

The Property Litigation team at Lupton Fawcett LLP will be carefully following the government’s consultation concerning the abolishment of the Section 21 Notice. To discuss how the proposed changes could affect you as a landlord or a tenant, please contact Rob Cooke (Partner) in the Sheffield Dispute Resolution team by email at rob.cooke@luptonfawcett.law

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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