The UK government has outlined plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 in an attempted to end ‘no-fault’ evictions.
Section 21 notices have typically been used to evict tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy, giving tenants at least two months’ notice to leave the property, with minimal requirements on the landlord and without any reason. This was seen in the high profile case surrounding Fergus Wilson’s decision to sell his entire property portfolio when hundreds of people faced eviction,
While seen by many as another political move from the UK government, the announcement did highlight potential changes to section 8. These include tightening up the valid grounds for eviction, shortening the court process and allowing property owners to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: “By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves – not have it made for them.
“And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so,” he added.
While ‘no fault’ evictions will likely become a thing past, assuming a property owner follows the correct court and notice process, here are some of the valid reasons for evicting tenants:
1. Rent arrears
For tenants that fail to pay their rent for typically more than 8 weeks or 2 months, the property owner can seek to take possession of the property.
2. Late rental payments
Similarly landlord’s can serve notice on tenants consistently paying their rent late. Tenants may not be in arrears with the rent, but regular late payment is valid grounds for seeking possession of the property.
If the property owner’s mortgage lender is repossessing the property. This is usually due to mortgage payment arrears from the landlord, as the mortgage provider can claim the property to cover for their losses.
4. Breach of contract – smoking, pets, subletting
If tenants break one or more of the terms in the tenancy agreement, such as if the tenancy contract restricts pets, smoking or unapproved subletting (especially relevant now with the popularity of short-term lets such as AirBnb). These can be one of many potential valid grounds for seeking possession of the property.
5. Repairs, disrepair or development
If the property is not safe or habitable, or the landlord wants to develop the property and can’t uphold basic living conditions. As long there is a suitable alternative available, the landlord can take possession of the property.
6. Anti-social or illegal behaviour
For tenants causing anti-social issues, perhaps breaking noise restrictions or causing issues in the local neighbourhood with behaviour, or using a property for immoral or illegal purposes.
7. Damage to property
If a tenant is causing too much damage, beyond the normal wear and tear. This includes everything from cigarette burns to wine stains, or repeated damage to furniture or carpets.
8. False information
If the tenant obtains property from the landlord by lying or presenting false statements. A fake credit check or false references can sometimes make a tenant look reliable. If the landlord can prove their tenants have lied, the property owner can immediately seek a possession order by the court.
Coming soon: Selling the property or moving back in
Under current legislation, landlords have to serve a section 21 eviction to repossess a home they wish to move back into or sell.
However, in the announcement to end unfair evictions published on 15 April 2019, the UK government is seeking to expand the legitimate reasons for repossessing property in section 8, including selling the property or if the landlord wants to move back into the property.
“And to ensure responsible landlords have confidence they will be able to end tenancies where they have legitimate reason to do so, ministers will amend the Section 8 eviction process, so property owners are able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.
“Court processes will also be expedited so landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property in the rare event of tenants falling into rent arrears or damaging the property – meaning landlords have the security of knowing disputes will be resolved quickly.”