Section 21 notice abolished - What's the latest news?
The UK Government has confirmed that it wants to abolish the Section 21 Notice or the No-Fault Eviction Notice in England under the Renters Reform Bill. Under this, the Section 8 Eviction grounds will be strengthened to allow landlords to have more structured control over the repossession of their property.
The announcement was made over three years ago and has slowly moved forwards, with the Renters Reform Bill announced in May 2023. The proposal has been created to provide a more robust framework for protecting private tenants.
But why has Section 21 Notice taken so long to move through parliament, and what's happened so far?
This article will delve into Section 21, the Renters Reform Bill, what it means for tenants and landlords, and the timeline over the past three years.
What is Section 21 notice?
The Section 21 notice is a form that a landlord may serve you, and it's a form that gives you information to vacate the property.
The Notice is designed so the landlord can take possession of a property they have let out with an assured shorthold tenancy; they don't have to provide a reason for wanting to take possession.
However, the expiry of section 21 continues the tenancy; the landlord still needs to obtain an order for possession from a court.
What is the Section 21 6A form?
The changes to Section 21 introduced a new form called the 6A used to serve the Notice itself.
The new regulations have also increased the circumstances in which landlords can serve a Section 21 Notice; it also prohibited landlords from serving the Notice if they have not repaid any prohibited payments or deposits as stated in the Section 17 act.
You can no longer use the previous Section 21 Form 6A, which will be invalid.
What is Section 8?
The Section 8 notice is a possession notice and is a prerequisite if the landlord wants to obtain possession of the property from the tenant; there has to be a reason behind doing this that entitles the landlord to take possession, such as breaking your contract.
There are a few differences between the sections 8 and 21:
Section 21 is used for shorthold tenancy; section 8 is for an assured tenancy.
The landlord doesn't have to give a reason for taking possession with the 21; however, with section 8, the landlord must have statutory grounds to evict a tenant.
Section 21 notice for landlords
When can you use Section 21?
There are only two circumstances in which you can use the Section 21 notice to evict your tenants; these circumstances include:
During a periodic tenancy - which is a tenancy that has an end date that isn't fixed.
When a fixed-term tenancy ends as stated in the written contract.
There are many more scenarios in which you can't use Section 21, which we'll dig into next.
When can't you use Section 21?
As we touched on, there are several scenarios in which you can't use Section 21, which is if any of the following conditions apply:
If it's been lower than four months since the tenancy starts - or the fixed term hasn't ended.
Property categorised as an HMO or house in multiple occupations and didn't have an HMO licence.
You've not repaid any unlawful deposits or fees that you've charged the tenant(s).
If, in the last six months, the council has said they will do emergency work.
You've not correctly used a 6A form.
If you didn't put the deposit from the tenants in a deposit protection scheme.
You also need to give tenants copies of specific things to use Section 21; these are all things you should present to the tenant when they move in:
An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).
Gas Safety Certificate (If your property has gas installed).
The How To Rent guide, which the Government provides.
How much notice do tenants need to receive for eviction notice?
Typically in issuing a Section 21 notice to your tenants, you will need to give them at least two months to vacate the property, although you may need to provide a more ample Notice if you have stated this in the contract.
You should also keep proof that you have given Notice to the tenant(s) by either filling in an N215 form or writing the exact wording "served by [name] on [date]" on the Notice itself.
What to do with tenants refusing to leave after Section 21?
The tenants can stay in the property past the date highlighted in section 21, so what else do you have to do to get a tenant to leave the property if they are refusing?
Here are the steps:
If your tenants have broken a term of their tenancy, issue a Section 8 notice.
The tenants haven't left by the date; you can now issue standard possession proceeding in the courts.
If you're not trying to claim rental arrears, then you can issue an accelerated possession proceeding.
The court will consider the case & then provide you with a possession order.
After that, you apply for a warranty of possession.
You can then instruct bailiffs who are legally able to remove the tenants.
Section 21 notice for tenants
When a landlord gives a Section 21 Notice to their tenant, which is valid, the landlord will need to go to court to evict the tenant.
At this time, the tenant will be able to challenge the eviction and possibly stay longer within the property — but this will result in further costs, and the tenant will need a viable defence.
Tenants can only receive a Section 21 Notice if they are in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), and the tenant does not have to sign the Notice to prove they have received it.
Are Section 21 notices still valid?
As the Section 21 Notice has yet to be abolished, they are still valid IF:
The tenant is in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
The Section 21 Notice is a Form 6A.
Section 21 is the correct length, and the landlord has applied for court.
The tenant has not received it during the first four months of the original tenancy.
The tenants' deposit is protected in a deposit protection scheme.
The tenant has received a Gas Safety Certificate, EPC or a copy of the Government's How to Rent Guide.
The tenant has not been charged too much deposit or a banned fee.
The landlord has the appropriate licence for the property.
The council has not ordered the landlord to undertake repairs under an improvement or emergency works Notice.
How long is the Section 21 notice valid for?
When tenants receive a valid Section 21 6A Form, they will have at least two months before the courts can get involved. If the tenant does not leave during this period, the landlord can apply to the courts for a possession order to evict the tenant.
The landlord can apply to the court as soon as the notice period ends but have a maximum of 4 months from the end of the notice period. Otherwise, it becomes invalid.
Once the landlord has applied, it could take a few weeks or several months to receive the court order depending on how busy the courts are, if a hearing is needed and how quickly the landlord acts.
If there is a problem within the courts, the landlord must reapply for a possession order. If the possession order is granted, only court bailiffs can evict the tenant from the property with at least two weeks' Notice from the eviction date.
The Section 21 notice timeline
On 15th April 2019, the UK Government announced its plan to change the eviction process (Section 21) for landlords wanting to remove potential tenants.
In 2020, the Government introduced new regulations which increased the circumstances where a landlord could serve a Section 21 notice.
And now, in 2023, the Renters' Reform Bill is being pushed forwards in the House of Commons and House of Lords, but the Section 21 notice has yet to be entirely abolished.
How long is the Section 21 notice valid for?
Before 2019, landlords in England could remove tenants from their properties using Section 21. This process could not be used during a fixed-term tenancy.
The Section 21 notice gives tenants two months before they are expected to move out of the property.
Landlords did not have to provide their tenants with a reason, and if the tenant refused to leave or was not out by the two months, then the landlords could apply for a possession order from the court.
If the landlord filed for a possession order, the landlord would have to provide evidence of why they wanted to remove their tenant and ensure they had all the necessary documents. The court would usually act in favour of the landlord and grant them possession.
What did the government want to change?
The Section 8 notice process would be widely used if Section 21 was abolished.
The process would allow landlords to regain possession of their property under certain circumstances, usually when the tenant had breached their tenancy agreement.
If the tenant was in rental arrears, had damaged the property, or exhibited signs of antisocial behaviour, then Section 8 could be used.
Many landlords argued that Section 8 was a far longer process and would cost them far more legal costs.
The Government counter-argued that if they abolished Section 21, they would aim to speed up the process of Section 8 and amend it to enable landlords to ask tenants to leave because they wanted to sell their property or move into it themselves.
Why is Section 21 taking so long to get abolished?
In the run-up to June 2019, the property industry was hit with a tsunami of rumours about whether Section 21 would be abolished.
However, come 1st June; the Government still has to abolish the Section 21 notice. Instead of abolishing the Notice, a new 6A form was introduced, making the last one redundant.
The new regulations increased the circumstances in which landlords could serve a Section 21 notice and prohibited landlords from serving the Notice if they had not repaid any prohibited payments or deposits as stated in the Section 17 act.
What is happening with Section 21 notice & renters reform bill (2023)?
In 2019, Theresa May's Government announced the Renters Reform Bill, which would end no-fault evictions by giving landlords & tenants more rights.
It took almost three years for the Conservatives to reveal their plan for the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper 2022.
This aims to remove the clause from the Housing Act 1988, allow security for tenants, and empower them to challenge poor landlord practices and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory evictions.
What does the renters reform bill mean?
The Renters Reform Bill will create a new ombudsman for tenants to make complaints against landlords without taking them to court.
Landlords cannot create a blanket ban on renting families with children or people on benefits.
Tenants will also have the right to ask their landlord if they can keep pets with the landlord legally forced to consider it — landlords cannot unreasonably refuse the request.
The Renters Reform Bill looks to give power back to tenants and exert their rights as well as:
Abolish Section 21 'no fault' evictions and reform tenancy agreements where all assured tenancies are periodic.
Introduce more possession grounds where tenants are at fault, for example, in cases of antisocial behaviour and repeat rent arrears.
Provide more robust protections against retaliatory evictions.
Introduce a new property portal, including a database of residential landlords and privately rented properties in England.
When will the renters reform bill become law?
There has yet to be a set timeline for the Renters Reform Bill, which will now pass through multiple stages in the House of Commons and House of Lords before making a law.
The chances are high that as the bill passes through parliament, it becomes watered down as many conservative members oppose the legislation.
Is Section 21 notice abolished?
The Renters Reform Bill may take up to a year before it passes through parliament and becomes law, but the Government's white paper warns landlords that any attempt to find loopholes will not be tolerated.
Change is on the horizon for the Section 21 Notice, but there is still some wait.
First, the Government proposes that all new tenancy agreements that would have been Assured Shorthold Tenancies become periodic. And then, all existing tenancy agreements will be transferred to a new system under a date which has yet to be confirmed by the Secretary of State.
What is the abolition of no fault evictions?
The UK Government's plan to abolish no-fault evictions means landlords can only evict tenants if they provide a specific reason. Instead, they will need to prove the tenant meets one of the 17 grounds for eviction that is set out in the Housing Act 1988:
The landlord wants the property to be own home or the property was previously their own home.
Off-season holiday let.
Vacation let of student accommodation.
Minister/lay missionary property.
Tenancy inherited under a will or intestacy.
Three months’ rent arrears.
Suitable alternative accommodation available to tenants.
Tenant served notice to quit but did not leave.
Persistent delay in paying rent.
Some rent is unpaid.
Breach of tenancy condition.
Deterioration of the house or common parts.
Nuisance or annoyance.
Deterioration of condition of furniture.
Ex-employees of the landlord.
What has been the reaction to Section 21 notice being abolished?
According to a Mortgages for Business survey, a third of landlords are concerned about the scrapping of Section 21 under the new plans; landlords will lose the right to evict tenants at short Notice without giving a good reason.
The new Government plans will effectively create open-ended tenancies where landlords must give a reason for eviction, like rent arrears or antisocial behaviour and include evidence of the tenant's shortcomings.
As a result, evictions have hit a record high as Buy-To-Let landlords panic. The introduction of the Renters Reform Bill and the scrapping of Section 21 has propelled the rate of landlords introducing Section 21 in anticipation of the law coming to fruition.
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