Boris Johnson’s government has once again pledged to reform renters’ rights by scrapping no-fault evictions in England.
Proposals designed to overturn Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, which permits landlords to evict tenants without reason and with two months’ notice, were initially proposed by Theresa May back in April 2019.
The Conservative manifesto pledged “private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without a good reason”.
The long-awaited protections for tenants against so-called “no fault” evictions appeared in the Queen’s Speech, and now a white paper has been published by the government.
The government has naturally presented its decision to end so-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions – that allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – as a positive thing for landlords. It points out that more than a fifth of private renters who moved in 2019 and 2020 did not end their tenancy by choice, including 8% who were asked to leave by their landlord.
However, Ian Narbeth, a consultant solicitor in the real estate team at city law firm DMH Stallard, is warning tenants who are cheering the proposed abolition of evictions using section 21 of the Housing Act, to “be careful what they wish for”.
He commented: “Until the introduction of assured shorthold tenancies, the residential rental market was stultified.
“Owners, fearful that they might never recover their property will be reluctant to let. If landlords serve s8 notices for rent arrears instead of the quicker s21, tenants will have county court judgments registered against them, wrecking their credit referencing and meaning that when they apply to the council for a home they will be considered to be ‘intentionally homeless’.
“Behind most so-called ‘no fault’ evictions is a solid reason such as non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour. Forcing landlords to air the tenants’ dirty linen in court will have repercussions.
“Families who let out their home while working abroad will be concerned that they may not get it back when they return without going through the uncertain court procedure. Being delayed by several months in recovering their home may mean staying in expensive B and Bs or taking on an expensive 12-month lease.
“Private landlords, having already faced seven years of anti-landlord legislation, may take their properties off the market, exacerbating the shortage of housing and pushing up rents.”