By Jonathan Dinsdale and Adam Chalker, Blandy & Blandy
What is Section 21?
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to terminate Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) without needing to provide grounds. The legislation stipulates that a Court shall make an order for possession assuming that the Landlord has given two months’ notice in writing of termination and that the tenant has been provided with necessary documents. Such documents include the EPC certificate, annual gas safety certificates, details of deposit protection (if applicable) and the ‘How to Rent in England and Wales’ booklet.
What is being changed?
Section 21 has gained much attention in recent years and various governments have pledged to reform it.
The move for reform has gained greater momentum in 2022. In the Queens’s Speech, as delivered by Prince Charles on 10 May, it was stated that the Government will aim to pass the Renters Reform Bill as part of their “levelling up” agenda. This will abolish section 21 in a wider bid to make the private rental market fairer for both landlords and tenants.
How will this impact landlords?
The complete implications of the proposed changes are as yet unclear. What is certain is that landlords will no longer be able to terminate tenancies without grounds should the Bill be passed.
The Government has suggested that, in conjunction with abolishing section 21, they intend to strengthen the ability of landlords to evict tenants with grounds. This will most likely be in the form of increased powers under section 8 of the Housing Act.
Currently, landlords can use section 8 to evict tenants if they can prove that they have grounds to do so. This is normally used if the landlord cannot use section 21. One such ground is a tenant having rent in arrears for at least two months. However, should the tenant pay the outstanding rent, this ground can no longer be relied upon.
The abolishing of section 21 may lead to a simplification in the ability of landlords to terminate ASTs with grounds. The Government has indicated that they may increase the number of grounds upon which a landlord can rely and that the property retrieval process could be made quicker and easier.
Abolishing section 21 may yet improve the situation for both landlords and tenants. It could lead to more secured tenancies and a simplified approach for termination with grounds. However, the details are as yet uncertain. Careful consideration of what is decided in Parliament is needed for all parties.
If you require advice in relation to anything mentioned above, please contact our Dispute Resolution team who will be delighted to assist you.