The government has just published a new white paper, The Renters Reform Bill, that proposes to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, preventing landlords in England from evicting tenants for no reason. This is welcome news for tenants, but what will this mean for landlords who want to evict their tenants but have “no fault” grounds to do so?
The Housing Act – a short history of the law
The Housing Act 1988 shaped the present law. It was extended by the Housing Act 1996, which provided that all residential tenancies (normally short term) were deemed to be assured shorthold tenancies (AST) unless otherwise expressly agreed, subject to statutory requirements.
The Housing Act 2004 imposed new obligations on landlords who received a deposit from their tenants, in default of which they could not serve a valid section 21 notice.
The Deregulation Act 2015, contrary to its title imposed additional requirements on landlords, which affected their right to serve a valid section 21 notice.
The end of no-fault eviction?
Under current terms, landlords of a residential property let on an AST can evict tenants from their property without the tenant being in default and giving a minimum two months’ notice, subject to obtaining a court order, if the tenant does not leave at or before the end of the notice period.
If these proposed changes come into force, the Housing Act 1988 will still provide landlords several ways to recover their properties from tenants but most of these rely on the tenant being at fault. Alternatively, some require a notice to be given to the tenant before the tenancy agreement is entered into. It is expected that these grounds will be expanded to include, for example, the ability for landlords to sell with vacant possession, provided the sale is genuine and not an attempt to circumvent the legislation.
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