Government Announces Removal of Section 21 Notices
Today (15 April 2019), the Government announced its intention to abolish section 21 notices which many would argue is the primary reason for the private rented sector to be the popular industry that it has become since being introduced on 15 January 1989.
The Welsh Assembly also announced the same proposals on Friday. As you can probably guess, it's been a busy day on the phones today! The section 21 notice is a minimum of two months' notice served on an assured shorthold tenant when the landlord wants the property back.
Because no reason needs to be given, it's commonly used even for rent arrears because it's arguably easier than arguing in court about the reasons. The abolition of section 21 notices would effectively create open-ended tenancies.
The proposals have cross-party support, increasing the likelihood of this going through massively.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
Everyone renting in the private sector has the right to feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence. But millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification. This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. Landlords will still be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reasons to do so, but they will no longer be able to unexpectedly evict families with only 8 weeks’ notice. This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.
The government's response to overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector outlines further details about the proposals.
It is proposed that the section 8 procedure be amended by adding grounds where a landlord wishes to sell or move into the property.
Therefore, to ensure landlords have confidence they will be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reason to do so, we will also strengthen the Section 8 possession process, so property owners are able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it. These will be in addition to the existing grounds which allow landlords to evict tenants who don’t pay the rent or commit anti-social behaviour.
Under the new framework a landlord will always have to provide a reason for ending a tenancy, such as breach of contract or wanting to sell the property. Tenants will be able to choose to end the tenancy, as long as they provide sufficient notice to the landlord, retaining the flexibility that we know is important to some renters. This will provide tenants with more stability, protecting them from having to make frequent and short notice moves, and allowing them to become part of their local community. The Government will ensure that landlords continue to have the safeguards they need to operate in the private rented sector with confidence. We are clear that any changes to Section 21 legislation will need to be underpinned by enhanced Section 8 grounds and a simpler, faster process through the courts. Landlords will benefit from the stability of long-term tenants, including the security of an assured rental income and fewer void periods. Landlords need to have confidence that they will be able to regain their property quickly in cases where the tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement or where the landlord has other reasonable grounds. Without these assurances, landlords may be prompted to leave the market, which would not help tenants. We are therefore planning to introduce new Section 8 grounds, in parallel to removing Section 21, to strengthen the rights of landlords to recover their properties when necessary, including when they want to sell or move into the property themselves. The Government will consider limiting the use of these new grounds until the tenancy has lasted for two years to provide tenants with additional security.
The next step is the government will consult on the proposals and “collaborate with and listen to landlords, tenants and others in the private rented sector to develop a new deal for renting”.
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A tenancy of someone's home, starting on or after 28 February 1997, will in most cases be an assured shorthold tenancy. Take advice early if there are any doubts about what type of tenancy is being terminated. The procedures for ending a tenancy are different, depending on the type of tenancy.