The government have recently signalled its intention to put an end to Section 21 notices (or no-fault evictions), due to the severe financial and emotional impact they had on tenants. This move has proved to be very popular with tenants and tenants’ rights activists, but many landlords fear that it is yet another move intended to strip them of rights of recourse they may have against tenants. In the following lines, we shall explore the sides of each party, and attempt to strike a balance between the need for protecting vulnerable tenants and the safeguards that landlords can implement should something go wrong.
How does it work?
No-fault evictions are carried out under s.21 of the Housing Act 1988. This section allows a landlord to serve a notice on the tenants, upon the termination or expiry of an assured short-hold tenancy. The court will then be petitioned for an order either granting the landlord possession of the premises or rejecting their application and therefore maintaining the tenants in the property.
Why are no-fault evictions a problem?
As the name suggests, no-fault evictions can be carried out without the tenant ever having done something to breach their obligations under the tenancy agreement. This has led to numerous accounts of unfair situations, where elderly or vulnerable individuals have been asked to move out of properties, with greater financial strain being placed on families evicted in some circumstances. The Guardian have recently published an article of such a circumstance, where no fault evictions have led to serious mental health conditions. After all, not everyone has the disposable income to contribute to a deposit for a new tenancy with just two months’ notice. This has serious implications, with people finding themselves either ending up in improper accommodation or risking homelessness.
The government have admitted that no-fault evictions are a primary source of homelessness among families, aggravating an already dire issue in the United Kingdom. As such, the fact that the Government seeks to have these evictions removed from legislation has been hailed as a massive victory for tenants’ rights. Should s.21 be repealed by Parliament, tenants will now have a sense of security, no longer being at constant threat that, after their fixed terms have come to an end, they could be asked to vacate the premises with as little as eight weeks of notice.
Why are some people displeased?
In spite of the fact that this announcement has been widely acclaimed, some people have made it clear that they are not pleased with the move. They argue that recent legislation has focused solely on tenants’ rights, and landlords’ rights have been forgotten about and neglected. The primary question among the people contesting the move, seems to be surrounding the concern of bad tenants. How can landlords be properly protected, if current legislation puts tenant protection on a higher pedestal?
At present, there’s a breadth of legislation that protects landlords against bad tenants, which grants them a course of action to either regain control of their properties or be reimbursed for any damage that may have occurred due to the tenants’ conduct. Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 covers a wide number of situations where landlords can seek back control over their properties. These cover the majority of situations one would describe as being attributable to bad tenants.
Putting things into perspective
Ultimately, I believe the Government’s move to remove no-fault evictions is very positive. It will allow a great number of people a certain level of security and would prevent seemingly unfair situations from happening again. Furthermore, it may help reduce homelessness which has become a major concern for our country in recent times. Some landlords may understandingly have concerns, but to put it in perspective, it seems fair that no-fault evictions become a thing of the past. If the concern regarding bad tenants becomes more frequent, parliament and other property governing bodies could step in once again and legislate on that issue.