Our property team always monitors the Government’s announcements concerning changes to landlord and tenant legislation. The pledge made by Theresa May in April 2019 https://www.linkedin.com/posts/helen-thomas-72210116b_property-nofault-consultation-activity-6523459470280912896-dgJY to end “no fault” evictions under S21 of the Housing Act has the potential to be the most significant development for our landlord clients’ businesses in 30 years and represents such a fundamental change as to attract widespread coverage in the mainstream media. Indeed the name of the consultation document, with its perhaps deliberate reference to public works on a scale hitherto unknown in the USA, may indicate something of its ambition.

The consultation document was published on 21 July 2019 and its tone leaves no doubt that that the intention is to abolish S21 and consult merely on how the alternative possession route  (S8, Schedule 2) might be amended to address the concerns that will undoubtedly arise.

The full document may be found at:   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819270/A_New_Deal_for_Renting_Resetting_the_Balance_of_Rights_and_Responsibilities_between_Landlords_and_Tenants.pdf


What should landlords do immediately?

As part of the preparation for any change it remains important to ensure that current tenancy documents are accurate and compliant in case action needs to be taken urgently prior to any change or a S8 process needs to be followed in the future.

Private sector landlords need to keep detailed records of fundamentals such as rent, the condition of the property, any complaints made by or to the tenant.

It is advisable to review Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 to understand the grounds that can be relied upon and consider whether they are likely to be adequate for the circumstances under which possession of properties in your portfolio have previously been sought.  We are able to advise as to the evidence that will be needed to prove these grounds.


A significant impact on private sector landlords

The English Housing Survey for the private rented sector 2016-2017 reported that the private rented sector was the second largest form of tenure, accounting for 20% of households. Reform in this area will therefore have far reaching effects.

The loss of S21 will have a significant impact on all private sector landlords.  There may unintended consequences for tenants if landlords withdraw from the market as a result of the proposed changes or are more cautious in their letting practice.

The Schedule 2 grounds do not currently cover all situations under which a landlord may need to seek possession, by way of example, there is currently no Schedule 2 ground which enables a landlord to take possession because they need to sell their property

Further, the evidence is that S8 proceedings take longer and are more expensive due to the need to collate and submit evidence, attend a court hearing and address any defences lodged.


What next?

In our view it is vital to ensure that  S8 is reformed to operate more efficiently, this should include a change to the procedure and an expansion of the grounds.

The consultation states that it is the Government’s aim that there will be an appropriate S8 notice for any situation where a S21 would have been used. One might treat this with a degree of scepticism as if this is the desired outcome, why abolish S21?

The consultation proposes changes to the court rules and greater use of technology.  Might it not be preferable to introduce those changes, ensure they are properly resourced and the technology functions before abolishing S21?

The Government seeks responses from all interested parties.  At page 12 of the consultation document it states

“This consultation therefore seeks your views on:

  • The impact of removing assured shorthold tenancies, and whether there are any circumstances where a tenancy should be ended without the tenant being at fault
  • Whether our reforms should relate to all those who use the Housing Act 1988 – in both the private and social sectors
  • How existing grounds for possession covered by Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 can be used effectively or reformed in the future once section 21 is no longer available and how new grounds should be added to cover the landlord selling or moving into the property; and
  • How the courts could consider applications for possession orders under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 more efficiently.”


Responses must be received by the Government by 12 October 2019 and the use of the on line survey is encouraged




Written responses can also be emailed to: TenancyReform@communities.gov.uk   or sent to: Private Rented Sector – Strategy and Reform Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Third Floor, South West – Fry Building 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF