The Government has announced this week its intention to review the way that landlords can recover possession of residential properties. They intend to get rid of the “no fault” eviction process. This is with a view to giving tenants more security in their homes. So what is proposed, and how will this affect landlords who want to evict their problem tenants?
As it stands, there are two procedures for a landlord to terminate a tenancy: section 8 notices or section 21 notices. After either of these notices have expired, the landlord must then start possession proceedings at court.
A section 8 notice requires, in the most part, for the tenant to be at fault. A landlord can serve a notice requiring the tenant to vacate if for example he is in arrears with rent, caused anti-social behaviour or caused disrepair to the property. Likewise, a landlord can use it where he wants the property back for his own home, or if the mortgage company wants to recover possession of the house. After the notice expires, the landlord can start possession proceedings in the court. If there is sufficient evidence that the tenant is at fault, the court will grant a possession order.
Section 21 notices, on the other hand, do not require the landlord to have a reason for wanting possession. If the tenancy agreement is not in the fixed term, a landlord can give a tenant two months’ notice to leave the property. The tenant may have always paid the rent on time, and kept the property in an immaculate state, but as long as the notice is valid, the court must make a possession order.
The government proposes to get rid of the section 21 procedure altogether. Landlords would only be able to evict tenants if they had good reason. Prime Minister, Theresa May, said that the aim was to “protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve”.
The government’s aims in relation to security for tenants is clear. Landlords will be keen to understand how the proposed changes will impact on them when they need to evict tenants who are causing problems, or where they want to sell the property.
The government also plans an overhaul of the s8 procedure to ensure that those landlords with genuine reasons to want to take back possession will be able to do so. This includes a look at the court processes so that these matters will be dealt with quicker.
What happens next?
The government has only announced proposals so far and is about to open a consultation. This will look at the court process and how to balance tenants’ rights, with the ability for legitimate landlords to recover possession of their rental properties. We will report back with updates later in the year. For now, landlords may still use either the section 21 or section 8 processes.