The End of Section 21

Given the increasing importance of the tenant vote and the possibility of a snap election as the situation with Europe continues to cause difficulties for the Government it might be thought that this is a nakedly political move.

This is only a consultation and no doubt some landlords and agents will hope it goes no further. However, Scotland has already got rid of its equivalent of section 21 and Wales is now proposing to do the same and so it is more likely than not that England will follow suit.
Within the press release there are also promises about court reform for possession matters. The timescale and what this will entail exactly is unclear but no doubt it will be closely watched.

Additionally, the press release from the government mentions that section 8 will be amended to allow for possession for the landlord to sell or to move back in. Possession for sale will require a new possession ground. However, possession to allow re-occupation by the landlord is in fact a ground already, albeit one that cannot be used during a fixed term tenancy.

It is likely that many landlords will be very concerned by these changes. In practice, the real effects will depend very much on the robustness of the amended section 8 process and the effectiveness of the court process that goes with it.

Landlords will be looking for a swift and effective court process, preferably analogous to the current accelerated possession procedure. However, this is likely to require more funding than is being offered to the county courts at the moment.

There is also a risk, in a market where there are more tenants than properties available for them to occupy, that landlords will shy away from any tenant that they perceive as a risk. This is likely to undermine the current efforts to persuade landlords to accept tenants on benefits and will also create real problems when mixed in with the right to rent and the risk that a possible tenant might lose that right at some stage.

It is too early to say much more at the moment and it will be necessary to wait for the consultation process.

About the author:

David Smith is a partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors and a recognised expert in landlord and tenant law.

He can be reached by telephone on 020 7940 4060 or by email on david_smith@anthonygold.co.uk


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