No-fault evictions remain…for now
Nov 6, 2023
“Landlords can too easily use and abuse the current system. Some will hike up the rent and if their tenants can’t pay, they will slap them with a no-fault eviction notice and find others who can.”
The words of Shelter’s chief executive, as the organisation urged the government to make scrapping ‘no-fault evictions’ a priority. That was two months ago, just after the release of Ministry of Justice data which Shelter said showed that the number of households in England removed from their homes by court bailiffs because of no-fault evictions was up 41% in a single year.
But change isn’t quite on the horizon. The intended ban on no-fault evictions in England, which has been on the cards since 2019, has been delayed. The reason? Improvements must first be made to the court system. These include moving the process online and implementing a better way of prioritising cases, such as those that involve anti-social behaviour.
For now at least, landlords retain the ability to take back the keys to their properties without giving a reason. How does this work in practice? You can serve a ‘Section 21 notice’ provided you have the necessary documentation in place such as a written tenancy agreement, EPC, tenancy deposit certificate and gas safety certificate and you have complied with the prescribed time limits for service. Once the notice is served, the tenant must have at least two months’ notice to leave the property. If the notice period has expired and they haven’t left, you’ll be able to apply to court for a possession order.
Section 21 is undoubtedly a helpful tool for landlords in some situations. But there’s no getting away from the criticism no-fault evictions have garnered for the uncertainty they create for tenants who feel they are under a perpetual threat of eviction, regardless of how ‘good’ a tenant they are. Some don’t want to rock the boat by raising issues about the condition of their home, for fear they’ll be evicted. And according to Shelter, no-fault evictions are a major contributor to rising levels of homelessness.
So, it’s no surprise that the end is in sight. We don’t yet know when this will be, and so until then landlords have this mechanism at their disposal when it comes to managing their tenancy arrangements. Good communication with tenants can sometimes avoid a Section 21, or a Section 8, process having to be gone through. (Section 8 requires a valid reason for bringing the tenancy to an end – this will continue to exist once the Section 21 route has disappeared.) But if notices do need to be served, it’s really important to understand the legal steps to take and when.
As landlord and tenant specialists, we work closely with landlords to work through difficult issues with tenants, whether it’s rent arrears, or needing to take back possession of the property. Contact us for advice about your situation on email@example.com or 01264 353411.
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