The government has already indicated its preference for the introduction of a longer residential tenancy. This has implications for the existing short-hold tenancy and section 21 – it would be a radical shake-up for the private rented sector in England.
However, with the existing overloaded court system, this move would be impractical, chaotic and as the government undoutedly knows, would probably lead to the exodus of many more private landlords. Hence, a Housing Court needed to deal with housing disputes, fairly and expeditiously, is a prerequisite to any such change.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last year launched a consultation concerning the proposed ‘Housing Court’ which closes 11:45pm on 22 January 2019. This consultation entitled, “Considering the case for a Housing Court: call for evidence” the Government is inviting comments from all interested parties to share their experiences of the current system of courts and tribunals.
A press release from Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP at MHCLG indicates what the government has in mind: a major overhaul, not just to the courts and justice system regarding rental property, but to landlord and tenant law as well:
“Changes to further streamline court processes could also provide confidence for landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies, by making it easier for responsible landlords who provide a high-quality service to regain possession of their tenancy should they need to do so.”
Many landlords fear this will include the end of section 21 notices and an end to the “no fault eviction” process which has recently been energetically campaigned against by Generation Rent, Shelter and Citizens Advice (CA), as well as by some prominent articles in sections of the print media.
A future Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government has vowed to end “no-fault” evictions, a claim that many in the industry thought would never become law under the present government, but more recent noises from
MHCLG, although it has not explicitly stated it will scrap section 21 notices entirely, this cannot be ruled out.
Following major changes in other jurisdictions, in particular Scotland, it is clear the direction of travels seems set: discussion and policy proposals across the political spectrum now appear to be focussing on reforms which would make private sector tenancies more tenant friendly.
This is a move which of couse risks alientating landlords, at a time when good rental accommodation is in desperately short supply in many lcoations, and when private landlords are already feeling the effects of recent tax changes.