Currently, a Section 21 Notice (Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988), sometimes known as “no-fault eviction”, allows landlords to give notice to an assured shorthold tenant, evicting them and forcing them to leave a property without solid legal reasons. Landlords do not have to establish fault on the part of the tenant and can give notice to the tenant (as long as certain conditions are met) to leave the property in eight weeks.

New Legislation

In April 2019, the government announced that “private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice without good reason”. Following this, there was a consultation process between July and September 2019. The consultation paper proposed the abolition of Section 21.

More recently, a white paper – A fairer private rented sector – was published in June 2022. This sets out a 12-point action plan to deliver “a fairer, more secure, higher quality private rented sector”. If this comes into action, a tenancy will only end if the tenant ends it or if the landlord has a valid ground for possession.

Why is Section 21 going to be abolished?

There are concerns that Section 21 has allowed landlords to get rid of tenants for spurious reasons, adding to the ongoing housing and homelessness crises in England and Wales. The power it gave landlords was limiting several families’ security, as even if they were paying rent on time and abiding by the rules, they could face eviction.

Moreover, it has been reported that Section 21 has been used to “intimidate tenants into keeping quiet about disrepair or poor practice”.

With the new legislation being created and approved in government, tenants can remain in their rented property for as long as they need, provided they do not break the terms of their lease.

Periodic tenancies to become standard

Tenants who would previously have had an assured tenancy or assured shorthold tenancy will be moved on to a single system of periodic tenancies. Tenants would need to provide two months’ notice when leaving a tenancy. Landlords would only be able to evict a tenant in reasonable circumstances, which will be defined in law.

Landlord impact

The government will also reform grounds for possession, saying the system must also work for responsible landlords, letting agents and communities. New grounds will be introduced for landlords wishing to sell their property and a mandatory ground for serious repeated rent arrears.
With the new system and rules, private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at the end of a contract without giving a good legal reason and extended notice.
Furthermore, landlords will not be able to implement significant rent increases and distribute unfair and unexplained evictions.

Can I be evicted without Section 21?

Section 21 aims to abolish unfair evictions, but this doesn’t mean that it is not possible to be evicted. A Section 8 notice can be issued if a tenant is in rent arrears, has engaged in criminal or antisocial activity, or has broken the terms of their tenancy.

However, Section 8 notices are more difficult to give than Section 21 as the landlord needs to take a tenant to court to enforce it. Always consult a trusted solicitor to discuss any property-related issues.

For further advice regarding Section 8 notices, please see this article from Citizens Advice.