In April 2019, the government proposed outline plans to end Section 21 – the legislation that covers no-fault-evictions, and gives landlords power over the occupancy of their property.
Described by the government as ‘The biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation’ and ‘an end to unfair evictions’- the announcement has caused understandable concern amongst landlords and agencies alike.
In this post, we unpack the announcement – looking at what has happened, when it’s happening, and the potential impact on landlords.
What is Section 21?
Section 21 is the legislation that gives landlords the right to evict tenants without giving any reason at the end of their fixed tenancy agreement (or at the break clause date).
If tenants are under rolling tenancies, landlords can serve tenants a Section 21 notice, which gives tenants 8 weeks’ notice to vacate the property. If tenants do not leave within the notice period, landlords can then apply for a possession order.
Section 21 – What’s Changing and why
On 15th April, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP announced plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions.
The idea is to protect tenants from being turfed out on short notice when they have nowhere else to go. With the rental sector growing year on year, the government is looking to provide additional security and peace of mind to the 4 million+ renters in the UK.
In practice, this will create open-ended tenancies, removing private landlords’ ability to evict tenants without a good reason – even at the end of fixed term agreements.
Under the proposals, landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end.
Balancing the changes – Section 8
It isn’t all bad news for landlords.
Alongside the changes to Section 21, the government has promised to amend the Section 8 eviction process, to ensure that property owners will be able to regain possession should they wish to sell a property or move in.
The government has also promised to expedite the current Section 8 court process (currently, this takes 145 days on average!), to make it easier for landlords to regain property in the event of damage or rent arrears.
When will the Changes Happen?
We don’t know.
Currently, we are still in the consultation stage, and there is no set date for the changes to come into effect. We would be surprised to see any changes come into effect in the next year, as this process typically takes a minimum of 18 months.
However, as we saw earlier in the year with the Tenant Fees Ban, the government is looking to shake up the sector, and it’s plausible that this could be pushed through more quickly.
CJ Property – Our Take
At CJ Property, we share some of the wider industry concerns about changing this legislation. Our industry is already facing significant pressure and changes – which are having a big impact on private landlords.
Ending the legislation without making significant changes to the current Section 8 process – which is lengthy and costly.
Ultimately, we support the view of the Fair Possessions Coalition, which is as follows:
A thriving private rental market that provides choice for tenants hinges on landlords having confidence that they can gain possession of their property in a timely and efficient way. At present, only Section 21 repossessions provide that certainty.
It should be kept unless and until a new system is in place that provides landlords with the same level of certainty. The other routes currently available for repossession properties do not meet this test.’
Although the government has indicated they will be looking to speed up the Section 8 process, and to introduce new grounds for eviction – until we see further details of this, we will remain wary.
However – there is no need for landlords to panic, or to take any action at the moment.
The End of Section 21 and CJ Property
At CJ Property, we’re committed to looking after our tenants and landlords, and to providing the best possible levels of service and value.
When it comes to Section 21, we are keeping our ear to the ground, and will keep all our clients updated and prepared as soon as we have any additional information.
Call 01482 645270 today for further information, or to discuss your requirements with our team today.