Landlords: Axing Section 21 will see assured shorthold tenancies abolished

The government has published its consultation on abolishing Section 21 of the Housing Act, but plans to scrap the UK’s most common tenancy contract are causing a stir.

Section 21 notices, also known as “no fault” evictions allowing landlords to remove tenants from their properties without giving a reason, are set to be scrapped by the government, and a new consultation paper sets out more details on how this will play out for the industry.

Titled A New Deal for Renting, the consultation’s aim is to “reset the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants”, but the paper unveils a significant change to the country’s private rented sector – scrapping assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs), which would affect most rental contracts in the UK.

Prior to this report, the government had long been discussing its intention to abolish Section 21 eviction notices. At present, landlords can invoke Section 21 to reclaim their properties without giving a reason for eviction, provided they meet certain criteria such as being more than four months since the tenancy started and a two month notice period is given.

Often, landlords have been falling back on using Section 21 rather than Section 8 in cases where tenants had broken tenancy agreements (such as missing rent payments or causing significant damage to the property), as it was seen as a more straightforward option with properties handed back to landlords quicker than the court process involved when using a Section 8 notice.

When Section 21 is abolished, landlords will be required to provide a “valid reason for taking back possession of the property and would need to be able to satisfy a judge of the validity of their claim”.

Most common type of tenancy contract to be scrapped

However, in order to abolish this eviction method, the government consultation states: “We intend to deliver the intention to remove section 21 by removing the assured shorthold tenancy regime. Section 21 notices can only be served under assured shorthold tenancies – the most common form of tenancy in the residential rental sector. Once we abolish section 21, there is no longer any significant legal distinction between an assured shorthold tenancy and an assured tenancy.”

Fortunately for landlords, the consultation also states its intention to improve the implementation of Section 8 of the Housing Act, meaning they will still have the power to remove tenants where necessary – and in theory, this should become easier.

Under a Section 8 possession notice, landlords can evict a tenant under certain conditions, normally where a tenant has breached the terms laid out in the tenancy agreement. This could include rent arrears or repeated late payments of rent, but it can be a long drawn out process through the courts at present.

The paper states: “Our aim is that wherever a section 21 notice would have been appropriate to use, an appropriate section 8 ground can be used instead.”

Landlord concerns should be listened to

Chris Norris of the National Landlords Association supports the changes proposed by the government.

“The court system has been in dire need of reform for a long time, so we’re happy to see action on this. Any improvements to this system need to be in place, properly funded and fully functional before the Government even contemplates changes to Section 21.”

Landlords have been relying on Section 21 to compensate for the many failings of the Section 8 fault-based process, which has become too costly and time-consuming.

“If the government wants to deliver a fairer, better quality and more affordable private rental market, as they claim, they should try listening to the concerns of landlords, not just court the voting renters,” he added.

Proposed improvements to eviction process

The consultation states that while landlords need to have powers to evict tenants who break tenancy agreements, they must also have the option to take back their property to move back into themselves (or for their families), or to sell the property.

The government promises that the current average time of 22 weeks for private landlords to regain possession of their properties will be “much shorter”, while a new online system will be launched to “speed up and simplify the court process for landlords”.

Across the board, many landlords complain that they have had to use Section 21 “no fault” eviction notices to remove tenants from their properties due to the time-consuming and overly complicated process of using a Section 8 notice instead. The hope is that through this consultation, despite the removal of Section 21 entirely, landlords will ultimately end up with a better and fairer option when it comes to regaining their properties, and one that will be fairer for tenants, too.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT