Renters Reform Bill: How will it Affect Section 21 & Section 8 notices?

rental property kitchen

In 2019, the Government made a commitment to ban no-fault evictions, intending to outlaw Section 21. While housing activists welcomed the proposal, it left the private rental sector in a state of flux, which persists to this day.

Recently, the House of Commons held the third reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill, accompanied by over 200 proposed amendments. Just a day prior, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, tempered his previous assurance that the bill would be law before the next election, likely by January 2025. His hopes for swift progress in the House of Lords might be challenged, given the contentious nature of many of the proposed amendments.

One significant amendment revolves around the emotional issue of no-fault (Section 21) evictions. Current proposals suggest assessing court processes and barriers to possession before eliminating Section 21 provisions for existing tenancies. The practical implications of this are yet to unfold.

Further amendments address issues such as changes to possession grounds for student properties to ensure the smooth operation of the student rental market. Additionally, there’s a proposal for an initial six-month tenancy term, offering landlords some needed assurance.

A welcomed amendment involves a review of the effectiveness and costs of council licensing schemes and their integration with the proposed property portal. Moreover, there’s a proposal to expand the homelessness prevention duty of local authorities to include cases where a tenant has received a valid Section 8 notice.

While proponents of renters’ rights may see these amendments as diluting the government’s original plans, landlords find them practical. According to Sim Sekhon of Propoly, these amendments aim to create a rental sector beneficial for both landlords and tenants.

However, Sekhon believes the bill still has a long way to go, speculating that the abolition of Section 21 might take several years due to challenges within the judicial system. Until the review of possession cases and funding is complete, progress on this front remains uncertain.

The bill has been contentious from its inception, with landlords criticising what they perceive as bias toward tenants’ rights. Some landlords have already exited the sector, but as of May 1st, leaving will become more costly due to increased court fees for possession applications. While progress on the bill suggests an end to the uncertainty plaguing the lettings industry, Sekhon advises against expecting swift resolution.

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