Landlords are responsible for renting properties they own to tenants who pay them rent based on a tenancy agreement signed by both the tenant and landlord. Whilst renting property is often a lucrative profession for landlords, from time to time, there can be reasons that the landlord wishes to cease the tenancy.

In order to stop a tenancy agreement after the tenancy has been signed, the landlord must serve an eviction notice to notify the tenants of the situation and allow them time to find alternative accommodation. This can be for many reasons including a breach of tenancy, or a reason personal to the landlord.

No matter the reason, both the landlord and tenant have rights. The landlord was able to evict tenants under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998, meaning they can serve an eviction notice to tenants in writing without disclosing the reason for doing so.

Since 2019, there have been plans in place to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998, meaning that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants in this way. But what does this mean for landlords, and how will they evict tenants in the future?

In this article we will discuss what Section 21 means and how this will affect landlords and tenants moving forward.

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What is Section 21?

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998 allows landlords to recover possession of their rented property by serving a written notice two months before the intended eviction date and proposed end date of the tenancy.

The clause in the Housing Act has allowed many landlords to effectively execute an eviction notice without having to disclose any specific reason for doing so, this provides a legal and discreet way for landlords to ask the tenants to leave the property by a given date. This is often also referred to as a ‘no fault eviction notice’.

Landlords can serve an eviction notice by accessing form 6A from the government. It is a landlord’s right to do so at their own discretion, however, they are unable to serve an eviction notice in this way to tenants on a fixed-term tenancy unless a specific clause was outlined in the contract.

What Does the Abolishment of Section 21 Mean for Landlords and Tenants?

The abolishment of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998 has sparked controversy across the private renting sector since the announcement during the conservative party manifesto for the 2019 general election.

Many landlords have reliably used Section 21 as a way to efficiently evict rental tenants when required to do so, however the clause abolishment brings about a lot of uncertainty for landlords across the United Kingdom.

For tenants, however, the abolishment of Section 21 provides increased security in that they are free to live in their homes without the fear of an unexpected eviction notice being served.

Section 8 of the Housing Act 1998

Once section 21 is abolished altogether, landlords will have to execute an eviction notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1998, requiring full disclosure of the reason for eviction. Section 8 offers a more structured framework of valid reasons for eviction, known as ‘grounds’.

Personal Use of Landlord (Grounds 1 and 2)

  • Ground 1- The Landlord plans to live in the property in question once more after previously doing so.

  • Ground 2- The property is being repossessed from the landlord by a lender (for example, the bank).

Rent Arrears (Grounds 8,10 and 11)

  • Ground 8- The tenant owes rent arrears usually for more than two months.

  • Ground 10- A tenant has some rent arrears for less than two months.
  • Ground 11- repeated failure to pay rent on the specified date.

Breach of Tenancy Agreement (Ground 12)

  • Ground 12- A clear breach of one of the terms previously agreed to by the tenant on the tenancy agreement.

Damage to Property (Ground 13)

  • Ground 13- Tenant has caused damage to the property which compromises the initial condition it was in.

Nuisance (Ground 14)

  • Ground 14- The tenant or another person living at the address has been causing a nuisance to neighbours which have been reported on more than one occasion.

In order to effectively execute an eviction notice under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1998, the landlord must clearly state which ground the eviction will occur under before the correct eviction notice can be served to the tenant.

How to Execute an Eviction Notice Under Section 8?

There is a specific process involved in order to ensure the eviction notice is executed effectively.

Firstly, the landlord must serve the notice to the tenant which clearly states the grounds of eviction, and notify them of the date they must leave the property. The notice period must be fair to the tenant, however, the length of this period will depend on the reasons for eviction. For example, eviction on the grounds of failed rent may require a shorter notice period than eviction on the grounds of nuisance or damage.

What if the Tenant Does Not Leave the Property by the Notice Date?

For tenants who fail to leave the property by the given notice date, landlords have the right to apply to the court for a possession order in order to lawfully take back the property. Once the request is submitted it will be considered by the court before being granted or refused based on the evidence given.

If the possession order is granted by the court, the tenant will be contacted by the court and will be issued a new date to leave the property. Once this notice is served, the tenant is advised to leave as soon as possible.

In some cases, if the tenant still does not leave by the date issued by the court’s possession order, the landlord must return to court to apply for a warrant of control, allowing bailiffs to enter the property to take it back from the tenant on their behalf.

At no point during this process should the landlord attempt to remove the tenant themself as this could hinder the court process or go against them.

What Impact Will the Abolishment Have on Landlords?

Once Section 21 is abolished in full, many landlords are concerned this will leave them at a disadvantage and cause new problems to arise when it comes to executing the eviction process of a rental tenant.

  • Cost of legal proceedings– in the event of a tenant refusing to leave the property, the landlord will have to approach the court for a possession order and even a warrant of control- the cost of these services will be incurred by the landlord.
  • A longer eviction process– if the tenant does not leave by the notice date on the initial eviction notice, the date will get pushed back by the courts until a decision has been made.
  • More disputes– when an eviction notice is served with a valid reason, this may cause further dispute between the tenant and landlord.

When Will Section 21 Be Abolished?

The Abolishment of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998 has been in consideration since 2019, but it is yet to be formally passed as law through the House of Lords. This process has been hindered by many factors including the upcoming general election in the United Kingdom. It is said that the soonest date for a law to be passed is by the end of 2024.

In Summary

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1998 has offered landlords an efficient way to serve an eviction notice to rental tenants without disclosing the reason for doing so, however, with plans to abolish it, landlords will have to rely on the use of Section 8 which requires a valid reason for eviction based on a series of specific grounds.

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