Since 2019 it has been mooted that the government would be seeking to bring an end to no-fault eviction. The Secretary of State for Housing, Michael Gove, announced on 17 May 2023 that the Renters (Reform) Bill will allow tenants to challenge their landlords without fear of being evicted in retaliation. It is also proposed that tenants will be able to request to live with a pet and landlords not being able to unreasonably refuse.
It appears, from what has so far been announced, that these changes do not affect a landlord’s right to evict a tenant who has breached a tenancy. If a tenant has committed anti-social behaviour, is in rent arrears or has committed some other breach of their tenancy agreement then a Section 8 Notice will still be available to a landlord.
Currently, the section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015 is in place to prevent retaliatory evictions. However, this requires a local authority to have served the required notice on a landlord which relies on an inspection being carried out. Often tenants may have been evicted before any inspection takes place. Even if the required notice has been served, a landlord is only prevented serving a Section 21 Notice (no fault notice) for a period of six months from the service of the relevant notice by the local authority. Therefore, the current law only prevents a retaliatory eviction for a maximum of half a year.
These changes may be a benefit to both landlords and tenants. If there is a disrepair issue at a property it should be in the best interests of both parties for this to be highlighted as soon as possible. Currently, though, a tenant might hesitate to raise issues over disrepair for fear that their landlord try to evict them rather than pay for the necessary repairs. Equally, for landlords it is surely preferable for any issues over disrepair to be raised early; problems that might have had a quick and cost-effective solution initially could left unfixed causing damage to the property, as the tenant was worried about the landlord.
Having represented both landlords and tenants in section 21 notice matters I have seen first-hand the difficulty that these types of claims can bring. Tenants can be frustrated that their landlords can evict them without giving a reason (a so called no-fault eviction), and landlords are often bemused to find out the exacting steps that must be taken to ensure that a Section 21 Notice is valid as various and technical defences are not available to their tenant.
This is a chance for a fresh start, but as with any fresh start it will depend on what replaces the previous status quo. We await these proposals in their full detail to be better equipped to assess whether they will in fact be of help to both landlords and tenants.