The Renters’ (Reform) Bill 2023 was introduced to parliament last year, promising comprehensive reform of the private rented sector. It will provide welcome news for renters in particular and will see England completely ban no fault evictions as part of a long-awaited package of reform of the private rental industry. The scheme will affect approximately 11 million tenants and 2 million landlords in England according to the Department of Housing.
While the policy, which was part of the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto, is still set to go ahead, it faces a rush against time to complete it prior to the next general election in 2024. Many have criticised the lack of progress since reform was promised in the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto.
But what are no-fault evictions? And how will the ban will affect landlords and tenants alike? Keep reading to learn more about no fault evictions and how they could affect you.
What is a no fault eviction?
The Housing Act 1988 enacted the “Section 21 Notice” law, which allows landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason. Under the current law, landlords can terminate their Tenancy Agreement (AST) with a tenant by giving a valid “Section 21 Notice” to the tenant after a fixed tenancy ends – known as a “no-fault eviction”. This means that the landlord does not have to have any reason to evict the tenant.
Landlords can also serve a section 21 notice at any time during a periodic tenancy, one which has no fixed end date.
Landlords are required by law to give tenants a Section 21 notice at least two months in advance. Therefore, this is the minimum time required for a landlord to evict a tenant. However, if the tenant refuses to leave after this period, eviction may take longer. The “expedited” court process typically takes nine weeks to complete. But it could be longer if the court is particularly busy. Bailiffs can take another four to six weeks after the court process is complete to evict tenants.
Why has the ban on no fault evictions been introduced?
An estimated 40 families in England have been threatened with “no fault” evictions every day since the law was introduced. Last year, research by the housing charity Shelter revealed that almost 230,000 tenants in private rental housing had received no-fault eviction notices since April 2019, with almost 17,000 of those evictions occurring during the same period.
To the dismay of tenants, no fault evictions are often abused by bad “rogue landlords” who use them to intimidate tenants into keeping quiet about the state of disrepair or poor landlord practices. Some tenants revealed to the media that they have always abided by the rules of the lease and paid rent on time. However, when they found some problems with the property and raised it to the landlord, they hoped that the landlord could repair the property. Instead, they received an eviction notice. This can discourage tenants from seeking help from their landlord.
To address such issues, the Conservative Party pledged in their 2019 election manifesto that they would end the practice, hoping to ban no fault eviction notices. However, that promise has not yet been fulfilled. The government has finally released a ‘white paper’ called A Fairer Private Rented Sector, which proposes the repeal of Section 21 evictions, which will be brought to Parliament as the Renters’ Reform Bill.
On May 17, 2023, the long-promised plan to abolish was finally realized, when the Renters’ Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on the same day. The bill would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants without fault. In addition to banning “no fault evictions,” the government issued other measures through the bill. It launched a “12-step plan”.
In its 12-step plan, the government pledged to end unreasonable rent review clauses and unreasonable rent increases, as well as allow tenants to challenge any excessive rent increases. The law will also make it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent properties to families with children or those receiving benefits. In addition, the law also gives tenants the legal right to bring pets, and landlords will not be able to “unreasonably” refuse.
Alongside this, a new ombudsman process will be introduced, which all landlords will be required to join. The aim is to provide tenants with a fair, just and binding solution to a number of issues. The idea with this is that the process will be faster, cheaper and less adversarial than the court route.
How does the new law affect tenants and landlords?
There is no question that the end of no fault evictions is good news for tenants, providing greater security and stability to their housing arrangements and reducing the risk of being caught without warning or explanation. At the same time, tenants also have more power to challenge evictions as they are able to contest the grounds used to evict them.
For landlords, the changes are mixed blessings. On the one hand, the end of no fault evictions has made it harder to evict tenants, with landlords having to think more about the grounds they use for evictions and that they have enough evidence to support their cases.
On the other hand, these changes encourage more responsible landlords to enter the market, as the risk of renting to problem tenants, such as those with anti-social behaviour, appears to have decreased. In the long run, landlords can be more motivated to keep good tenants who pay rent on time and take good care of the property.
Overall, the changes have been welcomed by renters, as well as some landlords who value stability and security. However, it does create some challenges for most landlords, who need to adapt to the new requirements and spend more time finding evidence to support their eviction cases.
Evveline Loh, head of the litigation team at Lisa’s Law, believes that these changes have both positive and negative aspects for landlords and tenants.
One of the main challenges for landlords is that landlords may need to rely more heavily on one of the 17 grounds for eviction to evict tenants, which can complicate their eviction process. Landlords need to find more evidence and documents to support their grounds for eviction, which can be difficult for landlords unfamiliar with the legal requirements. Additionally, landlords may need to invest more in maintaining their properties and addressing possible issues with problem tenants.
“On a positive note, these changes can help reduce risk in the rental market, strictly regulate the market, and reduce the risk of rogue landlords abusing the law to evict tenants. At the same time, the bill also helps responsible landlords, allowing these landlords to repossess their property faster, such as selling the property or moving in themselves. There will also be shorter notice periods for evictions in cases of irresponsible tenants, such as breaching the lease agreement or causing damage to the property. The reforms will also strengthen eviction resistance.”
In any case, landlords still have to keep in mind that they must abide by the law. They should not try to evict tenants without reason to avoid the risk of lawsuits. If you want to evict the tenant for legitimate reasons, you can contact a lawyer to see how to collect evidence and what kind of reasons will be more reasonable and make it easier to get the property back. For tenants, once you feel that the landlord is evicting you for unfair reasons, you can also collect further evidence to allow you to boldly fight for your interests.
If you have any questions about disrepair claims, no fault evictions, or Section 21 injunctions, please consult Lisa’s Law further. Our litigation team and real estate lawyer team have many years of experience in these areas and can provide you with professional advice.
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