This year, there will be a ‘major reset of a power’ in the private rented sector.
In the biggest shake-up of the last 30 years, the government aims to (finally) redress the balance between landlords and tenants – with a series of wide-ranging reforms.
Designed to give tenants greater protection, these reforms include everything from a bigger notice period for rent increases to the ability to request a pet in rented accommodation. But the most notable change by far, is the proposed ban on section 21 notices.
At some point in the next 12 months, landlords will no longer be able to use a section 21 eviction. If they want you out, they will only be able to serve notice if it’s in line with the agreed end date of your contract, or if they have a very good reason (e.g. anti-social behaviour).
And as specialist housing solicitors, we believe it’s a change that’s long overdue.
A surge in homelessness post-pandemic
Section 21 eviction notices – also known as ‘no fault’ evictions – allow landlords to evict their tenants with two months’ notice, without needing to give a reason for doing so.
For many years, such eviction notices have been a major source of home insecurity and homelessness amongst renters in the UK – but the issue is getting much worse.
Research has revealed that homelessness due to no fault evictions has increased by 76% in a year. From May 2021 to June 2022, almost 20,000 UK households were found to be homeless or at risk of homelessness due to a section 21 notice – up from approximately 9000 the year before.
This sudden surge is, largely, due to the lifting of the pandemic eviction ban. But according to many housing activists, no fault eviction notices are also commonly being used as a form of ‘revenge’ against tenants who complain about housing conditions or rent rises.
Whatever the cause, the UK could be on the brink of a national homelessness crisis. It’s a growing issue. And these alarming figures have sparked fresh calls for the government to ban the practice.
No more ‘no fault’ evictions?
A section 21 ban was first proposed by former prime minister – Theresa May – back in April 2019. The conservative government promised to increase security for tenants and protect them from ‘unethical behaviour’ – but, for a long time, nothing was actually done.
Fast forward to the present day and, thankfully, a Renters’ Reform Bill has now been confirmed.
Under the new reforms, tenants with an assured or assured shorthold tenancy will be switched to a ‘single system periodic tenancy’. And landlords will only be able to evict tenants under ‘reasonable circumstances’, which are defined by law.
In other words, no fault evictions will be officially banned.
In addition, the Decent Homes Standard will be extended to private renters.
This means, by law, rented homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards. Plus, landlords must keep properties in a good state of repair. And if they don’t, tenants will have more power to raise concerns regarding housing disrepair and unjustified rent increases – without the threat of a section 21 notice hanging over them.
Not got time to wait?
The proposed reforms will certainly be a positive change for UK renters, and they will definitely come into play in 2023. However, at the time of writing, the bill still hasn’t become legislation. So what if you’ve already received a section 21 eviction notice?
The first thing you should do is make sure it’s valid.
Do you actually have an assured shorthold tenancy? When did your tenancy period start? Exactly how much notice have you been given? Has your deposit been protected? Does the section 21 notice have any mistakes on it? Do you live in a house that needs a licence?
Depending on your answers to these questions – and many others – you might be able to challenge the eviction and stay in your home. There are also rules that might protect you from being evicted if you’ve complained to your landlord or asked for any housing repairs.
Detailed information and advice on this can be found at citizensadvice.org.uk.
If your section 21 eviction is valid, your landlord can’t make you leave your home unless they’ve gone to court to get a possession order – and they can only do this after the date on your notice.
Again, in this situation, we’d recommended taking a look at the citizens advice website and contacting one of their specialist advisors to discuss your options.
Housing disrepair claims at St Helens Law
Perhaps you’ve been waiting ages for a repair in your rented property?
Or the repairs carried out aren’t fit for purpose?
In the private rented sector, this responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of your landlord. You have a legal right to make a complaint, without the risk or worry of a ‘revenge’ no fault eviction. And in such circumstances, our leading housing disrepair solicitors are here to give you a helping hand.
Section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act states that landlords are ‘expected to keep the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house well repaired at all times, ensuring it is in a consistently suitable living condition’. And if that expectation hasn’t been met, you may have grounds for a housing disrepair claim.
Our specialists have excellent knowledge and experience in this area of the law, allowing us to guide you through the claims process efficiently, effectively and amicably. We offer an initial 30-minute consultation free of charge. And we should be able to act as your legal counsel on a completely ‘no win no fee’ basis.
So why not get in touch?
If you have any questions about housing disrepair claims, no fault evictions or the section 21 ban, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01744 742360. Or to request a consultation with our housing solicitors, fill out the online form on this page and we’ll respond with a potential date and time.