In the third part of more detailed coverage of the Renters Reforms Bill, I thought it would be a good idea to put to bed the fear that most people have gained from the local press and media: that you will not be able to evict your tenant because the no fault notice (Section 21) is to be abolished.
Not true – the sprite of the change is to stop landlords from asking tenants to leave if they make a complaint about the condition of the property. This is not the world I frequent but anecdotally it seems to have happened.
You will still be able to gain vacant possession. There will just be a different way of doing it.
But let’s put a few things into perspective:
- 87% of the tenancies that we manage are ended by the tenant not the landlord. If a tenant is on a periodic tenancy, they can give one months’ notice to leave. The Bill is aiming to increase this to two months…bet you haven’t seen that screamed out in the headlines.
- Even today if you serve a Section 21 it can take longer than two months as the local authority invariably will advise a tenant to stay put and wait for a court order. This means they have been technically made homeless and therefore can receive help in finding a new home with the local council.
The Renters Reform Bill will still allow you to gain vacant possession and is doing so by strengthening Section 8. This means the Housing Act 1988 (1996) will need to be amended. Also, it is not as simple as removing a notice – the Ministry of Justice will need to be involved and court processes will have to change as there will be no N5B or accelerated possession proceedings, as will the key elements relied upon under the deregulation Act 2015.
The Government has outlined that the process to end a tenancy through Section 8 will be similar to using a Section 21 notice. Which means, as now, if your tenant does not leave within the required time frame you will then need to go to court. Like now, evidence must be given on the grounds that you wish to gain possession.
The unknown in this is the court process, as how this will all work has not been outlined yet. However, we do know that the Government is working with the Ministry of Justice, HM Courts and the tribunals service to simplify the current, court process with a modern digital service.
Section 8 explained
Currently there are 17 grounds under Section 8 on how you can end a tenancy. They are a combination of mandatory (judge has no choice but to order vacant possession) and discretionary (judge has the right to question the reason for vacant possession). This is why most landlords historically have been put off from serving notice on discretionary grounds.
Updating section 8
This notice has actually existed since the Rent Act 1977. So it’s a bit like going back to the future! The Government has already stated in its guidance:
So far this is what we know what the adjustments are:
New grounds under section 8
There are several which apply to specialised types of tenancy which do not really apply to this audience. The ones that might be of interest are:
To be honest, unless you do this as a day job, all you need to know is that you will be able to gain vacant possession. It will be down to us to guide you as to how this can be done.
If you have any worries at all, you know that you can just give me call.