Renters’ Reform Bill: What landlords need to know

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The government announced in April 2019 that private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason.

The government then announced in May 2022 further details of the Renters’ Reform Bill to deliver a ‘new deal’ for renters. In October 2023, the government provided a further update on the progress of the Bill.

Solicitor Salma Mahmood of WHN Solicitors provides an update for landlords on the situation regarding the abolishment of Section 21 notices and the introduction of Renters’ Reform Bill, after the government’s announcement of a delay to the new proposals.

The background to abolishing Section 21

Section 21 is a route that some landlords have previously used to evict their tenants without having to establish fault on the part of the tenant. A consultation paper was compiled which proposed that Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 should be abolished.

The government considered that under the under current legislation, some renters face ‘a precarious lack of security’ especially in terms of section 21 and ‘no-fault’ evictions. The government also reported that Section 21 evictions led ‘some tenants to feel reluctant to challenge poor living standards due to risk of eviction without reason’.

The new rules therefore aim to empower tenants to challenge poor landlord practice and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction.

Further details regarding the intended ban of Section 21 can be read here: What landlords should know about plans to ban section 21 evictions

What are the reasons behind the delay to abolish Section 21?

In October 2023, the government announced that they will not abolish the Section 21 route until reforms are made to the justice system and sufficient progress has been made to improve the way courts deal with legitimate possession cases. The courts have also had significant delays in dealing with evictions, especially because of Covid-19 backlog, which need to be cleared first.

The other reasons behind the delay include:

  • The overall eviction process needs to be digitised so that it is user-friendly and easier for landlords to access and use.
  • The courts need to find a way to prioritise certain cases which may be more serious/urgent than others.
  • There needs to be an improvement on the recruitment of bailiffs and a reduction in the administrative burden on bailiffs to prioritise possession enforcements.
  • Legal advice must be made more accessible for tenants earlier in the process such as mediation, so they can try to find housing solutions that meet their needs.
  • There are also proposals to introduce a new private renters’ ombudsman. It will be a requirement that all landlords must join.

What is the advice to landlords during this transitional period?

The traditional route to initiate Section 21 and Section 8 evictions will remain in place until such a time that the courts have been reformed.

In the interim, landlords are advised to continue to use the Section 21 process as it stands, for the foreseeable future. The processes will hopefully be a lot clearer when Section 21 notices are finally abolished, and WHN will provide further updates going forward when more information is available.

Further details can also be found in our previous article outlining the aims of the Renters’ Reform Bill.

Salma deals with a mixture of litigation cases, supporting our clients on matters relating to commercial and civil litigation, landlord and tenant disputes and contract disputes. If you wish to seek further advice about the Renters Reform Bill, or the lawful eviction of a tenant, you can contact Salma on 0161 761 8097, or by email salma.mahmood@whnsolicitors.co.uk

Enjoyed this? Read more from Woodcocks Haworth & Nuttall Solicitors

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