Our very own Editor and Writer, Rose Jinks, is warning that scrapping Section 21 could dampen housing market supply.
The Government’s recent announcement to scrap Section 21, therefore banning no-fault evictions, is one of the biggest moves to improving tenants’ rights and promoting more secure housing in the private rental sector.
At present, Section 21 enables landlords to evict private tenants with as little as eight weeks’ notice after a fixed notice period has come to an end. This part of the Housing Act 1988, however, is one of the greatest causes of homelessness in the UK, while also limiting tenants’ abilities to find secure and stable housing.
Although scrapping this part of the Housing Act is set to improve tenants’ access to longer-term, stable homes, Rose is concerned about the implications the ban would impose on both tenants and landlords.
She explains: “If the Government does decide to scrap Section 21 completely, then landlords will need support on how to regain possession of their properties in legitimate circumstances, such as when they need to sell.
“We are concerned that this latest change to legislation could further deter landlords from investing in the private rental sector, as we have seen recently, which could dampen housing supply and make it more difficult for tenants to find homes. What we’re most concerned about is how this will negatively affect tenants in the long-term. We fully support the Government’s aim of improving tenants’ rights, but the effects need to be considered before any changes are implemented.”
Currently, and until the removal of Section 21 is definite, landlords can issue an eviction notice using Section 21 or Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. If a tenancy agreement started before 1stOctober 2015, then it is legal to serve a Section 21 notice at any time during the tenancy. For contracts that were signed on or after 1stOctober 2015, landlords must wait four months before serving a Section 21.
However, landlords must remember that they cannot serve a Section 21 notice if the tenant has formally complained in writing about the condition of the property and the issue has not been dealt with efficiently.
To ensure a smooth eviction process, Rose advises landlords to ensue that they have up-to-date documents for the tenancy agreement, a signed and dated inventory, the prescribed information relating to the deposit protection scheme, details of landlord insurance, and any notes made during periodic inspections.
If a tenant refuses to leave after the two-month notice period, then a possession order can be applied for – this process usually takes four to six months.
Rose predicts that evictions will be an extremely uncertain process for both tenants and landlords after Section 21 is scrapped: “The Government has mentioned an improved court system to support its Section 21 reform, but we are concerned that they will have the resources and this will not be adequate for supporting landlords through the eviction process, if it is not tried and tested before the changes are implemented.
“In order to enforce the removal of Section 21 effectively, the Government must indicate how it will enable landlords to regain possession of their properties after the change, whether that be through new court processes or an improved Section 8 procedure.”