Following last year’s consultation on ‘overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector’, the government has announced that it intends to move forward with a proposal to end ‘no-fault’ evictions effected under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.
The government’s own research has shown the average length of residence in the PRS is 3.9 years, whereas 81% of tenancies granted are for an initial fixed term of just 6 or 12 months. The report suggests many tenants live with the worry they might be asked to leave if they make any complaints and evidence shows that the ending of tenancies via the Section 21 process is currently one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.
This new proposal, which has been branded the biggest change to the PRS for a generation, means that private landlords in England would, in the future, no longer be able to use a Section 21 notice to end a tenancy at short notice and without a reason. The intention is to encourage longer tenancies and give those renting greater security of tenure with what is, essentially, an open-ended rental agreement.
A similar system has already been adopted in Scotland, where a new ‘private residential tenancy’ was introduced on 1st December 2017. Under the terms of this tenancy:
- if a tenant has been in a property for more than 6 months, the landlord must give them at least 84 days’ notice to leave, and
- unless the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy or agreed to leave, a landlord can only evict them if the property is required for another purpose (e.g. it’s being sold or the landlord wishes to move in themselves) or there is a legal reason why the tenancy can’t continue (e.g. the landlord’s registration has been revoked or the property is overcrowded).
Although this appears an initiative for ‘tenants only’, the government has also stated it intends to strengthen a landlord’s ability to reclaim their property through Section 8, so if you want to sell or move back into your home, you should have more power to be able to do so.
It is important to note this is not in force yet and a consultation on ending no-fault evictions will be launched over the summer, giving tenants, landlords and others in the private rented sector the opportunity to comment and collaborate with the government in developing a new ‘deal’ for renting. The legislation on Section 21 is quite complex and is embedded in lots of different laws, so it is not expected to come into force for some time.
Full information is available on the GOV.UK website.