What is the issue?
Section 21 has been the cornerstone of the private rented sector since its introduction in 1988. It has provided landlords in England and Wales with a reliable mechanism that allows them to regain possession of their property with certainty.
Now, the UK Government has opened its consultation on ending assured shorthold tenancies and ending Section 21 as a result. This would effectively creat open ended tenancies across the entirety of England.
At the same time the Welsh Assembly has begun consulting on restricting the use of their upcoming Section 21 equivalent, Section 173, so that possession may not be sought in the first 12 months.
While Section 21 is often referred to as ‘no fault eviction’ all the evidence from our research shows that landlords do not go to court without good reason. Instead the majority only use Section 21 for legitimate purposes, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
They do this because Section 8, the notice that should be used where the tenant is at fault, is often ineffective and the court process around it is too slow. Section 21 masks these inadequacies and landlords must have confidence that any new system or restrictions will not leave them using an alternative that is not fit for purpose.
What is the RLA doing?
In England the RLA is calling for the retention of the Section 21 until private landlords have confidence in any new system. This new system must include a new specialist housing court as well as significantly improved possession grounds under Section 8. They must be able to swiftly regain possession of their property with certainty. For further details and to see how you can get involved see our page on possession reform in England.
In Wales, we welcome the retention of an equivalent to Section 21 but we are concerned that restricting its use without changes to the courts or the grounds based possession route will lose landlord confidence. This is worrying as it would leave anti-social tenants or ones in arrears in a property for an average of 16 months. For further details and to see how to get involved see our page on possession reform in Wales.