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Renters Reform Bill Update: When And How Can I Evict Tenants?

Abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions is going through Parliament. Learn what that means for you – and why you should act now.

Renters Reform Bill Section 21 evicting tenants goes before Parliament

Countdown To Reform…

The Bill intended to abolish Section 21 no fault evictions is winding its way through the House of Lords. Day by day, it inches closer to the statute book (and the impending election).

After passing First Reading in the Lords, the Renters Reform Bill tomorrow (15 May 2024) faces its Second Reading there. Much debate is expected – but that’s par for the course among the peers.

Evicting Tenants? Get Expert Legal Advice First

This much-debated legislation still has some way to go before Royal Assent: 

  • House of Lords Committee Stage
  • House of Lords Report Stage
  • House of Lords Third Reading
  • A return to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments.

But Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove expects Royal Assent by the summer. For the record, Parliament is due rise for its summer recess on 23 July 2024.

Mr Gove foresees the abolition of Section 21 taking place “a matter of months” after Royal Assent.

But the MP for Surrey Heath still might not get everything his own way – at least not from the outset. As it currently stands, the proposed new law would apply only to:

  • new tenancies
  • fixed-term tenancies that have become periodic.

Fixed-Term vs Periodic Tenancies

Fixed-term tenancies – as the name suggests – are for a defined period, such as six months or a year.

Periodic tenancies are a rolling agreement; they roll on monthly or weekly.

A fixed tenancy that has expired automatically becomes periodic if the tenant continues to pay rent and the landlord accepts it.

So tenants who continue to pay rent after the end of a fixed-term tenancy would become protected by the proposed new ban on Section 21 evictions – if the landlord accepted the rent.

How Will Landlords Evict Tenants After Section 21 Is Abolished?

Under the present Housing Act 1988, the alternative to Section 21 is a Section 8 notice based on certain grounds of fault. These can include:

  • rent arrears
  • damage to the property (excluding fair wear and tear)
  • breach of tenancy conditions (such as keeping a pet without the landlord’s approval).

But what if you need to evict a tenant and they’ve been a paragon of virtue? What if you simply want to take possession of your property so you can live in it yourself?

Section 8 is due to be reformed so the tenant can be evicted if:

  • The landlord wants to sell the property. But the tenancy must have lasted longer than six months. And the landlord can’t list the property for short-term lets (such as on Airbnb) for three months after relying on this ground).
  • The landlord (or a close member of family) wants to move in. The landlord must serve two months’ notice – and they still can’t do this within the first six months of a tenancy.

What Will Happen After The Royal Assent?

Sadly, it’s going to be messy. It certainly won’t be the smooth transition that the system needs, given the inevitability of change being forced on landlords against their will.

Some landlords would be stopped from issuing Section 21 eviction notices because the tenancies are new or periodic.

Others could still do so because the existing fixed-term tenancies have not yet expired.

And there’s another factor to consider...

One of the amendments to the Bill states that Section 21 should not be abolished until the government has reviewed the courts system to ensure it can cope with the increased capacity. Spoiler alert: the courts are already struggling to cope as it is.

So all this will be even worse than a postcode lottery – it will be a ‘property-by-property’ lottery.

No wonder so many landlords have left the market before the new legislation goes live!

How Coles Miller’s Landlord And Tenant Solicitors Can Assist

The time window available for using Section 21 to evict tenants is becoming smaller with every passing day. And the courts grow ever busier. Sadly, this is a perfect storm for landlords.

So you must ensure that all your legal paperwork is absolutely correct. Don’t run the risk of a court rejecting your eviction notice because of a procedural error. You don’t want to be back at square one; time is running out.

Get expert legal advice from our specialist lawyers who know the system. We can help you to progress your evictions much more smoothly.

Get Expert Legal Advice On Evicting Tenants

Eviction notices related to short-term assured tenancies are handled by our Debt Recovery team (because so many evictions involve rent arrears).

Contact our highly experienced Debt Recovery Manager Eric Holt for expert legal advice. His specialisms include evictions and recovering rent arrears.

Eric has been with Coles Miller for nearly 20 years. Before that, he managed two firms’ debt recovery departments for 15 years. Prior to that, he worked in the County Court and at a major finance company.

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