Landlords will find it more difficult to regain possession of their rental properties in future as the Tories confirm their commitment to removing the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Labour has already committed to a similar move.
The AST was introduced when Margaret Thatcher de-regulated the private rented sector (PRS) with the 1988 Housing Act, introducing the concept of a time limited tenancy where residential landlords could regain possession at the end of an agreed tenancy term, if they so wished, without needing to give a reason.
By confirming the withdrawal of the legislation, The Conservatives hope the move will appeal to a growing army of young renters, and in particular those with families, as renting has become more common.
The current Section 21 process would be replaced with a beefed-up section 8 system, where landlords must a prove in court a beach of contract, against a specific set of grounds for eviction.
Homelessness charities and some politicians have been campaigning for years to change the rules, following similar moves in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The original Tory initiative to remove Section 21 was announced under Theresa May’s Government, but now it seems Boris Johnson has confirmed that this will be carried through, to the dismay of many landlords.
Landlords are concerned that given the uncertainty surrounding their ability to remove bad tenants under such a regime, their businesses will become untenable and they will be inclined to sell-up. This, landlord groups maintain, will lead to a shortage of properties to rent and higher rents.
Section 8 is an adversarial court based system, unlike Section 21 were possession orders can be obtained without going to court, and landlords argue that with an already overloaded county court system, evictions will become protracted and expensive.
David Smith, of the Residential Landlords Association, told The Daily Telegraph:
“While any new system should protect tenants from the minority of landlords who abuse the current rights, it is important that good landlords can be confident that in circumstances such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour they can swiftly and easily regain possession of their property.”