From Robert Ulph on February 22, 2021
At the state opening of Parliament in December 2019, following the General Election, the Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s plans. This included the announcement of a Renters’ Reform Bill that set out to abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and reforming the grounds for possession.
The Bill was originally expected to be introduced in the coming months, and the now former junior housing minister, Kelly Tolhurst stated it would be introduced very soon at a recent debate in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, Kelly Tolhurst has since had to step down from her role, due to personal reasons but it seems the Bill will now be delayed – potentially until later this year – according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
In a recent podcast, NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle commented “[housing minister] Chris Pincher has told us that the social and economic terrain needs to be a stable one before this comes. I don’t know that we’re going to see social and economic stability at any time soon, so I think probably what we’ll be looking at is a bridge between what we have now to the Renters Reform Bill, which my best guess is probably much, much later in this year. But we will see.”
“The government made a commitment on abolishing Section 21. That’s obviously something, whether we like it or not, has widespread political support. But it’s a massive opportunity to tidy up some of the problematic areas that the sector has. Our hope is that it’s a bit like the 1988 Housing Act, had massive impact on the sector that I think this one is hopefully going to deal with the fundamental structure in which we operate. But fundamentally, is fair to both landlords and tenants. That’s certainly what we’re hoping for.”
Questions remain about what will replace Section 21 when it is abolished and in the run up to the Government commitment, ARLA Propertymark made representation that reform of the judicial system to provide access to specialist courts must be in place before any changes are made. Under the current system, it can take months to regain possession of a property. Furthermore, Section 8 isn’t currently used because it is complex, costly and has too many discretionary grounds.
Introducing a dedicated housing tribunal would considerably cut the time taken for a landlord to gain possession of a property and will make the process more straightforward for all parties involved. Without an effective court process and tightened mandatory grounds for eviction the Government’s proposals will have a negative impact on the private rented sector.
I will be working with ARLA Propertymark on the next stages of the Bill and will keep you updated, and as always do not hesitate to contact me for any further information on this or anything else you have questions or need advice on in the property market.