Landlord and Tenant Update

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By Nicola Grant

Litigation Executive (GCILEx)

The Government has recently announced changes to landlord and tenant law, specifically by abolishing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which allows landlords to evict tenants at relatively short notice and without having to give a reason, also known as “no fault evictions”.  The proposed changes, which will have to undergo a period of consultation before coming into force, are made to “protect tenants from unethical behaviour” from landlords.

Whilst there is no doubt that there are rogue landlords out there who rent out substandard properties and who don’t comply with their various obligations to their tenants, the majority of landlords are decent law-abiding people who have invested in property and are purely seeking a return on their investment.  Most respectable landlords have no desire to lose good, rent-paying tenants, and the reality is that recent data shows that around 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant rather than the landlord.

There is an alternative route open to a landlord seeking to evict tenants on the grounds of non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour for example, under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, but this is largely felt to be inefficient and costly, with the landlord having to go to court to regain possession in most cases.  Section 21 is often used as a “fall-back position” for landlords where their tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement and where they wish to obtain possession without too much delay.

It is likely that landlords are going to find it much more difficult to evict tenants in the future.  Despite the Government’s assurances that the current procedure will be streamlined and that further grounds for eviction of problem tenants will be created to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who are in rent arrears or who engage in anti-social behaviour for example, this remains to be seen.

These new changes are just another hurdle being placed in the way of landlords, who are also affected by the Tenants Fees Act 2019, which came into force on Saturday 1 June 2019.  This legislation makes changes to fees a landlord is able to charge tenants/potential tenants in connection with a tenancy and means that charges such as referencing fees, fees for inventories and tenancy renewals cannot now be charged to tenants and will be the landlord’s responsibility.