Section 21 notices - what the end of “no-fault evictions” could mean

6th June 2022

The Renter’s Reform Bill was first proposed in April 2019 by the government to improve protection for private renters in England including the ending of section 21 notices, commonly called no-fault evictions.

The section 21 notice can be issued by private landlords without any requirement to give a reason. Critics say this is a cause of homelessness and means that tenants can’t settle in their homes due to the fear of eviction.

Examples where landlords may issue a section 21 notice include:

  • anti-social behaviour;
  • reclaiming the property from a tenant who is damaging it;
  • reclaim property in order to sell it; or
  • a falling out between the landlord and the tenant.

The abolishment of section 21 notices will significantly change the way the private rented sector works, but how and what will change is currently unknown and depends on various factors.

What are the new rules and when will they be introduced?

February 2022 the government published Levelling Up the United Kingdom, a whitepaper that set out plans to reform the private rented sector. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • The abolishment of section 21 and “no-fault evictions”;
  • Proposals for new minimum standards for rented homes;
  • Introduction of National Landlord Register and taking tougher action against rogue landlords

Full details of the above proposed changes and the implementation dates are not yet known.

The abolishment of section 21 notices will likely mean cause morelandlords to rely on the section 8 notice procedure. How will section 8 notices look under the new rules?

Whilst the exact structure of the new s8 notice is not finalised, three new grounds for repossession under this have been proposed:

  • Repossession of the property where the landlord needs it for occupation by a family member;
  • Repossession of the property where the landlord intends to sell it;
  • Repossession of the property where a tenant is preventing the landlord from maintaining legal safety standards.

We await further details of what new s8 notice will look like.

There is already more scope for litigation under the section 8 notice* procedure. It can be a longer, more drawn out process for landlords than using a section 21 notice. Will the new changes lead to more litigation?

It is unlikely that we will see an increase in possession claims. However, due to the nature of the change and the need for provide a reason for any eviction, it is likely that there would be an increase in defended possession proceedings.

Will there be changes to the court system to improve efficiency – e.g. a specialist housing court with expert judges and trained court staff – or will the changes cause case delays?

The exact structure is yet to be announced, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some changes to be made to the court system. In response to the government’s plans to abolish s21 notices, the Residential Landlords Association (now the NRLA) has suggested introducing a reformed and improved court system, citing Scotland as a precedent.

Need more help?

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Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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