The Government has announced its intention to scrap Section 21 notices for eviction in an effort to offer tenants more long-term security.

At the moment, Section 21 notices enable landlords to evict tenants without a reason at the end of their fixed-term tenancy. However, under the government’s new plans, landlords would be required to provide ‘concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law’ in order to bring tenancies to an end. In order to support this, the government also announced plans to make reforms for Section 8, with a consultation launching shortly.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this move, as the government has come under increasing pressure to make this move for some time.  However, I will be surprised, and somewhat concerned, if they do completely abolish Section 21 rather than diluting it, which I had presumed they would do.

Either way, this is going to be game-changing for the PRS. By removing the ability to evict with Section, I predict:-

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  • Any prospective landlords will think twice about embarking on the world of buy-to-let, therefore limiting future supply growth, certainly in the short-term
  • Some existing landlords, particularly those accidental landlords who may have previously been victim to difficult tenants, will exit the market, thus compounding the housing shortage crisis
  • We may see a surge in landlords serving section 21’s in the near future if they are not confident about their current tenants.

As I have said for many years, the vast majority of landlords only evict tenants as a last resort. No landlord wants to go through the hassle or expense of having to evict a tenant, but sometimes needs must, which is why the term ‘no-fault’ is moot and infuriates me.

By the government’s own admission, 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant. Of those the tenancies ended by the landlord, we know that the majority are ended because of rent arrears, as in 56% of cases surveyed by Landlord Action.

The reason many landlords use Section 21 to gain possession rather than Section 8, is because it is typically quicker.  Landlords have little faith in the current court system and few anticipate being able to pursue rent arrears without a lengthy process, so most take the decision to forfeit recovering lost rent and just to get their property back as soon as possible so they can re-let.  Section 8 also comes with the added risk that tenants can counter-claim, therefore delaying the process further.

The government has said Court processes will be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property in the rare event of tenants falling into rent arrears. However, in truth, no-one really knows how ‘rare’ rent arrears cases are because most landlords are writing them off via use of Section 21.

In my view, if Section 8 is going to have to be relied on more heavily, it must be “fit for purpose” and any changes and their application need to be carefully considered.  Clearly, if a landlord is going to need strong grounds for possession, there are going to be a lot more court hearings. So, my question is ‘are there going to be a lot more judges to handle this increased workload?’.  On a positive note, it will give much greater accuracy as to why tenants are evicted and may help pave the way for future reforms to support both landlords and tenants.

I do fully understand the argument that unscrupulous landlords should not be able to kick good tenants out without reason and that families to have greater security and be able to put down roots.  However, I also feel strongly that the proposal needs careful considered before removing the use of Section 21 altogether.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Will SHELTER and others still encourage tenants to come up with “repairs issues ” never reported before the day of the court hearing ? Encouraging people to lie is not business like .
    The current court system is not fit for purpose. It takes too long to get a hearing and with s8 these are often delayed. the day of the hearing a tenant who turns up, never having responded to the summons and filed a defence, is drawn to the duty solicitor who then, in the best interests of his client – the tenant – secures a delay
    No change to the system will, as Paul predicts leads to a lot less rental properties, and those landlords who do stay , will be setting a much higher bar for their prospectrive tenants. WELL DONE SHELTER and others
    Dave Absalom

  2. What is the point of a contract if a landlord cannot say ‘I will not be renewing your contract’
    Why should there be a reason. A contract was agreed by both parties.

  3. Tenants need to thank legislation for a reduction of supply, higher rents and now a further cycle of reduction of supply and higher rents. The idea of winning votes by ‘fairness’ to the tenant is shooting them in the foot.
    Landlords do not have to invest in this market. The government need to attract landlords the vast majority are decent, like MP’s there are some that are not fit for purpose.

  4. I am sick and tired of this well-meaning ‘Labour’ nonsense from a so-called Tory government!

    What kind of idiot landlord evicts without good reason a reasonable tenant who is paying their rent on time each month? If you have a decent tenant, even if you believe you could squeeze another £100 pcm out of the property, why would you evict them? Firstly you will have costs and stress involved in that eviction, then when the tenant is finally gone you will have to probably redecorate at more expense, then you will have a void period waiting for the next tenant and, if you’re using an agent, you will have another agency fee to pay plus all the fresh government hoops to jump through.

    But I guess it will at least make a few ‘Tory’ ministers feel good about themselves and that they ‘care’.

    • Mine. I get a section 21 every 6 months. I renew then 4mths later a new notice. Renew 2mnth later and so on.
      I know I should have moved away, but not knowing anything about renting, being a divorced father with my daughter Weds to Sun, I got trapped. Been here since April 10. All my money goes on rent and supporting my daughter. My only other money is in my deposit.
      Never missed a payment etc.

  5. I have recently been in the situation whereby I needed to evict a tenant for rent arrears. Using section 21 does (at least in theory) limit the amount of additional further rent arrears to a maximum of eight weeks. Like most landlords I am not in the habit of evicting good tenants, I prefer them to stay in the property for as long as possible. Having to re-rent a property is a lot of hassle and there is always a period ‘between tenants’ when you are not collecting any rent.
    I believe that scrapping section 21 will cause more problems than it actually solves!

  6. The lawyers get paid a lot more for section 8 evictions and conuter claims and Blair’s portfolio will go exponential as he she know landlords will leave thearket. It’s obvious they wanted section 21diluted then removed in 2ⁿ08 when they brought in the deposit and epcs. When they take the landlords to court for allegations of tenants smoking cannabis with no actual proof it’s gone to the dogs

  7. Will it be possible to put a clause in the rental contract that states that the tenant agrees without condition to vacate the property when served notice by the landlord at the end of the rental term, and that only with the agreement of the landlord may the tenant continue to rent the property?

  8. It is a shame the Section 21 is likely to be discontinued as it is quicker than the Section 8. My wife has a letting business and over the past three to four years has used Section 21 to evict at least six tenants, all or whom have run up rent arrears. We used Section 8 once and ended up going to Court three times and then still had to use Section 21 to get them out!
    I suspect this is the main reason for evicting tenants. Too many tv shows display the fact there is little that landlords can do in the case of non payment of rent. Even obtaining a CCJ is really toothless.
    My wife is a good landlord and has many tenants that pay their rent on time, but unfortunately, there is no help from the powers that be. I don’t know what the answer is to non payers, unless the Law were to be changed so that the debt would never be expunged until it was paid off.
    The Government implementing the Law for a register of ‘Rogue Landlords’ hasn’t worked. Or (rather unlikely) there are less ‘Rogue Landlords’ than we are led to believe.
    What should be done, is a Register of Tenants, available to landlords. That way feedback can be left and we will all know who to avoid. The only way onto the list for a record of non-payment would have to be a Court Order, but other things could be noted such as the cleanliness and state of the property once they left.
    How many of us have spent thousands restoring a property to a letting condition after tenants have left, either by eviction or choice?

  9. I am a relatively new landlord, having only one house that we have let out for 3 years so far.
    Our plan is Long term and involves this being one of 2 houses that once we retire, provides a proportion of our retirement income.
    We have no intention of selling up, or evicting tenants that pay on time, and so far we’ve only put the rent up when the Tenant left and it was clear that market rates were higher. If the current tenant is in the house more than 3 years we’ll review the rent, and it will go up, but still be a good deal.
    We are (or were) about to Invest in the second of these 2, but what if we decide to sell up? what if we find that we don’t want to be landlords in 25 years time at 80 years old.
    We could end up owning property where we can’t evict the tenant, and it might not appeal to landlords in the future (because maybe people won’t want to invest in the future in this business), so we’ll be unable to realise our asset.
    And if we leave the properties to our Children, how will they pay the inheritance tax* due? They’ll have to hope they can sell them to an investor with the tenants or are able to re-mortgage them on a BTL, to pay the inheritance tax.
    *We’ll have lost the equity in our own home, to pay for our care home fees.

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