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Insights // 05 June 2023

The End of No-Fault Evictions - What Does This Mean for Landlords and Tenants?

Senior associate solicitor Jonathan Dinsdale, in our Dispute Resolution team, explores the implications of the end of no-fault evictions and the potential impact on the UK housing market.

In recent years, the issue of no-fault evictions has gained increasing attention in the UK, brought about by a national debate on tenant’s rights.

What is a no-fault eviction?

No fault evictions, also known as Section 21 proceedings, allow landlords to evict tenants without giving any explicit reason. Some say that this has created uncertainty and instability for many of those tenants in the private rental sector. Following the implementation of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and the proposed legislation contained in the Renters (Reform) Bill, the UK is seeing a shift towards a fairer rental market that prioritises protection for tenants.

For decades, no-fault evictions have been a considerable concern for tenants in the UK. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 gives landlords the power to evict tenants after the initial fixed term of their tenancy agreement without the requirement of providing a reason for the eviction. This situation has left many private renters vulnerable to unexpected displacement, contributing to housing insecurity and homelessness in some extreme cases.

The negative downsides of no-fault evictions are particularly serious for vulnerable individuals and families. A general lack of stability and the ever-burdening constant threat of eviction can disrupt these individuals’ ability to put down roots, build communities and secure their future. These problems have been increased by the exponential rise in prices in the rental sector caused by a shortage of affordable housing options which further amplified the difficulties faced by private tenants.

The Tenant Fees Act 2019

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 identified the need for change. The UK government took a step towards increasing protection for tenants with the implementation of the 2019 Act. The legislation aimed to address the excessive fees which were being charged by both landlords and letting agents, making renting more affordable and transparent. The 2019 Act did not address directly no-fault evictions; however, it laid the framework for broader reforms in the private rental sector.

The end of no-fault evictions

Following the progress made by the Tenant Fees Act 2019, the UK government announced plans to abolish Section 21 evictions all together. It is anticipated that this reform will be implemented by way of the Renters (Reform) Bill, which signifies a huge milestone in tenants’ rights.

It is anticipated that the end to no-fault evictions will go some way to create a more balanced power dynamic between landlords and tenants, fostering a rental market which prioritises fairness and stability for tenants. With the end to Section 21, tenants will be afforded better security as they will no longer be able to be evicted without just cause. The change will allow renters the opportunity to challenge possession notices and defend their rights which will ultimately foster a more equitable housing system.

The potential consequences

Notwithstanding the above, some concerns have been raised in relation to potential consequences of the abolishment of Section 21 no-fault evictions. Landlord Associations argue that in the absence of the ability to gain possession of a property without a specific reason, landlords may face difficulties in regaining possession of their property when it is necessary. This has led to fears that landlords may be discouraged from renting out their properties altogether or lead to a more stringent process for tenant selection. There are also concerns that some landlords may decide to sell up and leave the rental market altogether which would of course, exacerbate the problem of the short supply of rental properties currently on the market in the UK and possibly drive-up prices even further.

The Renters (Reform) Bill also makes provision for tenants to seek consent from a landlord to keep a pet which is not to be unreasonably withheld. In many cases, long leases of flats contain clauses banning the keeping of pets at the property. The Renters (Reform) Bill proposes that in such cases the landlord should take reasonable steps to seek consent from the superior landlord and the keeping of pets can only be prohibited if the superior landlord refuses to give it.

The end to no-fault evictions marks a turning point for landlords and tenants in the UK. There are challenges and concerns which will persist; however, it is hoped that the benefits of enhanced tenant protection, stability and security will outweigh the potential downsides for landlords.

We can advises on the full range of matters affected landlords and tenants, including in relation to property disputes.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Jonathan Dinsdale

Jonathan Dinsdale

Senior Associate Solicitor, Dispute Resolution

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