Private landlords are advised to ensure that tenancy agreements are up-to-date and comprehensive, ahead of any planned government changes that would put a stop to Section 21 notice evictions, commonly referred to as ‘no-fault’ notices.
A regional expert in contentious property law says it is also vital that landlords and tenants across the region take part in consultation on the proposed changes, as and when that consultation is announced.
Wilkin Chapman solicitor Tom Hickingbottom was speaking after news broke today of a major law change, which will effectively prevent private landlords from evicting tenants at short notice without good reason.
The planned change, intended to protect renters from rogue or unethical landlords, is designed to give tenants more long-term security and would see a withdrawal of Section 21 notices. These currently allow landlords to evict renters without a reason at the end of their fixed-term tenancy.
The move has already met with reaction from both sides. The National Landlords Association said the move would create ‘chaos’ and make fixed-term contracts ‘meaningless’, while tenants’ organisations say this represents a ‘vital first step to ending profiteering from housing’.
Tom advises that, in the run-up to the proposal being discussed thoroughly, it is important for private landlords to understand the full consequences of not having water-tight tenancy agreements in place.
“A well drafted tenancy agreement is an advantage to a landlord and tenant as it clearly sets out each parties’ obligations so there is less scope for confusion. Any landlord with unwritten tenancy agreements or tenancy agreements which are light on detail, should consider preparing new ones to ensure they have adequate protection,” he said.
If the proposals went ahead, Tom explained that landlords would be left with just one method of eviction action – a Section 8 notice and the grounds within Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.
In short, that would mean evictions could be triggered by one or more of the limited number of ‘mandatory’ grounds i.e. there were rent arrears of eight weeks (if rent is payable weekly or fortnightly) or two months (if rent is payable monthly), or ‘discretionary’ grounds i.e. someone breached a term of their tenancy – in the latter instance the court would decide.
“At present, none of us know where this will lead, but there is no doubt the Government is looking seriously at this change. However, these proposed changes are unlikely to have any effect on the Tenancy Fees Act 2019, which comes into force on June 1. It is also unclear how this will impact upon current law,” added Tom.