On the 15th April, the Government announced its plan to change the eviction process (Section 21) for landlords wanting to remove problem tenants.
We've updated this post as of 2020 to include the latest on section 21: Find out more.
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What is Section 21?
The Section 21 notice is a form that you may be served by a landlord, and it's a form that gives you notice to vacate the property. The notice is designed so that 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.
The expiry of a section 21 however doesn't end the tenancy, the landlord still needs to obtain an order for possession from a court.
What is the Current Legislation for Section 21? (outdated)
As it stands, landlords in England can remove tenants from their properties using a process called Section 21. This process, however, cannot be used during the fixed term of a tenancy. A Section 21 notice gives tenants two months’ notice before they’re expected to move out of the property. At the moment landlords don’t have to provide their tenants with a reason for this. If the tenant refuses to leave or is not out by the end of the two months, landlords can apply for a possession order from court. If things get to this stage then the landlord must provide evidence of why they wanted to remove their tenant and ensure they have all the necessary paperwork. The court will usually act in favour of the landlord and will grant them possession.
Since 2019 there have been changes made to section 21 as we knew it, to read all about the "new" section 21, click here.
What where the proposed changes?
The current Section 8 process would be more widely used if Section 21 is abolished. This process allows landlords to regain possession of the property under certain circumstances, usually when the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. If a tenant is in rental arrears, has damaged the property or is exhibiting signs of anti-social behaviour then Section 8 can be used. In theory, this doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, however, many landlords have argued that the current Section 8 process is more lengthy and costly than a Section 21 notice.
The government has counter-argued that, if they abolish Section 21, they will aim to speed up the process of Section 8, as well as amending it to enable landlords to ask tenants to leave because they wish to sell the property or move into it themselves.
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When where these proposed changes going to happen?
The government has indicated that they’d like to implement these changes as quickly as possible, however, they will have to introduce the idea to Parliament and get the legislation passed first.
One thing they have said, though, is that the changes won’t affect existing tenancies, but will only affect ones set up after the change has happened.
We will update you as we find out more. If you’re a landlord with difficult tenants or you just want to sell your property quickly due to the recent increase in taxes, then we can help. The Property Buying Company will buy your property for a fair cash sum and, if you have difficult tenants, we can have them evicted with all legal fees covered by us. Get in touch today to find out more.
2020 Section 21 Update
We're over a year on from the debate around whether section 21 would be abolished or changed, so what actually happened?
What happened to Section 21? (Did it get abolished?)
There where a lot of rumours in the months leading up to June 2019 about Section 21. As we've touched on above a lot of people within the property industry thought that they would completely abolish the act, however come the 1st June, that was not the case.
Instead of abolishing the act, they made a few changes to how it works.
What are the recent changes to Section 21?
The changes to Section 21 introduced a new form called the 6A which is used to serve the notice itself. The new regulations have also increased the circumstnaces in which landlords are able to 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 6A form as this will be invalid.
When you can use a 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 a lot more scenarios in which you can't use a Section 21, which we'll dig into next.
When you can't use a Section 21
As we touched on, there are several scenarios in which you can't use a Section 21, which is if any of the following conditions apply:
- If it's been lower than 4 months since the tenancy starts - or the fixed term hasn't ended
- Property categorised as a HMO or house in multiple occupation and doesn't have a HMO licence
- You've not repaid any unlawful deposits or fees that you've charged the tenant(s)
- If in the last 6 months the council has said they will do emergency works
- 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 certain things in order to use a 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 is provided by the Government
How much notice do you need to give the tenant?
Typically in issuing a Section 21 notice to your tenants, you will need to give them at least 2 months to vacate the property, although you may need to give a longer notice if you have stated this in the contract.
At this current date, this will also be impacted with COVID-19 which currently means the period needs to be at least 3 months.
You should also keep proof that you have given notice to the tenant(s) by either filling in a N215 form or writing the exact wording "served by [name] on [date]" on the notice itself.
What is a 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 section 8 and 21:
- The section 21 is used for shorthold tenancy, section 8 is for assured tenancy
- The landlord doesn't have to give a reason for taking posession with the 21, however with a section 8 the landlord needs to have statutory ground to evict a tenant
Tenants refusing to leave after Section 21
The tenants can stay in the property past the date highlighted in a section 21, so what else do you have to do in order 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 posession proceeding
- The court will consider the case & then provide you with a possession order
- After that you apply for a warranty of posession
- You can then instruct bailiffs who are legally able to remove the tenants