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Richard Pulford

Dispute resolution

It has long been an intention of the government to abolish the ‘no fault’ section 21 notices seeking possession. This took a step closer to realisation with yesterday’s Queen’s speech.

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Notices pursuant to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 entitle the landlord to recover possession of the property when let out on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, without needing to give a reason. Whilst over time it has become more difficult to serve a valid notice due to increasing requirements ranging from regularly changing prescribed forms, prescribed documents that need to be served at specific times etc., these notices represent a staple for landlords of all kinds when looking recover possession of their property with the minimum of fuss.

Originally proposed by Theresa May’s government in 2019, it had long been assumed that it was a matter of when rather than if the section 21 procedure would be changed. It is a topic that has cross party support and so it is not expected to have much objection, as well as having been mentioned in past queen’s speeches. However, support alone will not make the process any easier. Private sector rental reform of this magnitude would need to be carefully thought out and there would need to be proper consideration to the knock on effects of reform of this kind.  Discussions of toughening up of the section 8 process most commonly used when the tenant is in breach of contract, are imminent although quite what this looks like is up to debate. Will the government want to make it easier for tenants to be evicted during the current cost of living crisis? Anything is on the table.

It is worth noting that just because the Renters Reform Bill is back on the table, this does not mean that action is imminent. That is certainly the expectation given it has been a policy for years, but circumstances change. Significant resources and time would need to be given to this to make it work and the government will presumably not want to drive away private landlords from the sector when the need for rental accommodation has never been higher. This is something to keep your attention on, as we would expect a busy year if this is going to come into force in the immediate future. With significant changes ahead, landlords and managing agents alike will want to make sure they are well prepared.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.


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