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Section 21 Notices: Going, But What Next

Laura Southgate, Partner in the Property Disputes team at Cripps, comments

After a bit of unfortunate yo-yoing, the Government has recently re-confirmed its intention to proceed with the reforms to the PRS highlighted in its White Paper, “A Fairer Private Rented Sector” (“the White Paper”). One of the key (and arguably most radical) provisions in the White Paper is the abolition of so-called “no fault evictions”. We consider what this will mean for landlords, and how can they can prepare for the changes.  

What is a no fault eviction?
Most residential tenancies in the PRS are assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) and can be terminated by a landlord at the end of the fixed term by serving 2 months’ notice (section 21 notice). A landlord does not have to give reasons and the tenant does not have to be at fault. This can be contrasted with the alternative route to possession of an AST which requires a landlord to serve a notice relying on at least one of a number of (most commonly fault-based) statutory grounds (section 8 notice).

If the tenant fails to vacate the property following service of either a section 21 or section 8 notice, the landlord must apply to court for an order for possession.

As long as the court is satisfied that a section 21 notice is valid (and that various pre-conditions to serving it have been met), it must make an order for possession. The position is not so straightforward in respect of the statutory grounds which are either mandatory (meaning that, if made out, the court must make an order for possession) or discretionary (meaning that, if made out, the court may make an order for possession but only if it considers that it is reasonable to do so).

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