Section 21 ban, what would this mean for the industry?

Hot on the heels of the Government’s ban on tenant fees, it is now considering banning section 21. Currently, there are two ways in which a landlord can evict a tenant; by serving a Section 8 notice or a Section 21 notice.

The Section 8 notice was designed to be applied to evict tenants who have broken a term or terms of the tenancy agreement. This could include failing to pay rent and going into arrears, while remaining in the property.

A Section 21 notice, meanwhile, can be used to evict any tenant at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, or during a tenancy term that doesn’t have a fixed end date. No reason is required for the Section 21.

Why does the Government want to ban Section 21 evictions?

The Government is currently appearing to show a pro-tenant stance with regards to the reforms its debating and passing into law. Most recently, lettings fees charged to tenants across the private rental sector have been abolished. The reason? To make it more affordable for tenants to move home when they rent.

The Government has also increased funding and powers for councils to act against unscrupulous landlords who don’t provide housing that is safe and in a state of good repair.

If Section 21 is banned, it will mean the removal of one of only two options a private sector landlord has to evict their tenants. Specifically, the Government is seeking to unblock the courts with regards to eviction processes, by having the one clear path to follow.

Indeed, there have also been some reported cases of tenants being evicted within weeks of complaining about a problem with the flat. Or, where an eviction simply wasn’t expected at all and no real reason was given.

How will a Section 21 ban affect the PRS?

While no definite plans have been made for banning the Section 21 eviction notice, if it were to become law, it would give some tenants peace of mind that they won’t lose their home through no fault of their own or for no discernible reason.

But it’s worth highlighting that figures currently show the majority of PRS tenancies end because the tenant chooses to do so – not the landlord.

According to the National Landlords’ Association, (NLA) the reason many landlords use Section 21 to evict tenants is due to a growing lack of confidence that they can successfully evict a tenant under Section 8.

While the Government said it plans to reform the Section 8 eviction process to include additional reasons for serving tenants with an eviction notice, including the sale of the property, the NLA say this isn’t enough.

“England’s model of tenancy was always intended to operate in a sector where Section 21 exists, “ said the NLA’s CEO, Richard Lambert. “The onus is on the Government to get this right. It’s entirely dependent on the Government’s ability to re-balance the system through Section 8 and court process so that it works for landlords and tenants alike.”

Whether or not they do get the balance of a single eviction notice right, remains to be seen. However, given the current attitude of supporting tenants over landlords, its likely some PRS landlords and bodies representing them, are expecting any changes to fairly balanced.

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