Scrapping Section 21 could dampen housing supply warn rental experts

Section 21

• Four million households in the UK are privately rented.
• The Government’s recent announcement to scrap Section 21 will enable tenants’ access to more stable housing.
• Rental expert Just Landlords provides its analysis on the recent property rental news and how to ensure a smooth eviction process.

The Government’s recent announcement to scrap Section 21 and ban no-fault evictions is one of the biggest moves to improving tenants’ rights and promoting more stable housing for privately rented households.

Currently, Section 21 enables private landlords to evict tenants with as little as eight weeks’ notice after a fixed notice period has come to an end. This part of the 1988 Housing Act is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness within the UK, while also limiting the tenant’s ability to maintain secure and stable housing.

While scrapping this part of the Housing Act is set to improve tenants’ access to long-term stable housing, rental expert Just Landlords is concerned about the implications the ban would impose on both landlords and tenants:

Rose Jinks, the spokesperson for landlord insurance provider Just Landlords, explains: “If the Government does decide to scrap Section 21 completely, then landlords will need support on how to regain possession of their properties in legitimate circumstances, such as when they need to sell.”

Rose continues: “We are concerned that this latest change to legislation could further deter landlords from investing in the private rental sector, as we have seen recently, which could dampen housing supply and make it more difficult for tenants to find homes. What we’re most concerned about is how this will negatively affect tenants in the long-term. We fully support the Government’s aim of improving tenants’ rights, but the effects need to be considered before any changes are implemented.”

Current eviction regulations

Currently, a landlord can issue an eviction notice by using Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. If a tenancy agreement started before 1st October 2015, it is legal to serve a Section 21 at any time during the tenancy. For any tenancy agreements that were signed after 1st October 2015, a duration of four months must be waited before Section 21 is served. However, landlords are unable to sanction an eviction notice if the tenant has formally complained in writing about the condition of the property and the issue has not been dealt with efficiently.

Ensuring a smooth eviction

To ensure a smooth eviction process, Rose advises landlords to ensure that they have up-to-date documents of the tenancy agreement, a signed and dated inventory, the prescribed information regarding which deposit scheme you have registered the tenant’s deposit, details of landlord insurance and any notes made during periodic inspections.

What happens if a tenant refuses to leave?

If a tenant refuses to leave after the two-month notice period, a possession order will have to be applied for – this process normally takes four to six months.

On behalf of Just Landlords, Rose Jinks predicts that tenancy eviction will be an extremely uncertain process for both tenants and landlords after the scrap on Section 21 is issued: “The Government has mentioned an improved court system to support its Section 21 reform, but we are concerned that they will not have the resources and this will not be adequate for supporting landlords through the eviction process, if it is not tried and tested before the changes are implemented. In order to enforce the removal of Section 21 effectively, the Government must indicate how it will enable landlords to regain possession of their properties after the change, whether that be through new court processes or an improved Section 8 procedure.”