S21 & S8 Notice changes….. and The Renters' Reform Bill back on the government’s agenda!
Pilgrims Sales & Lettings Managing Director, James Griffin, reports on the last week’s news……………………………………………………………………………………………….
Two years ago, the government announced its intentions to abolish Section 21, make changes to Section 8, and introduce "lifetime deposits" as part of its “revolutionary” Renters’ Reform Bill, a sweeping set of reforms for the English private rented sector.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher has since stated that the government would "bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill ... once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed.”
The Queen's Speech for the state opening of parliament confirmed these intentions with a promise to “enhance the rights of those who rent”.
What will the Renters' Reform Bill cover?
The proposed reforms include:
- Ending “no fault” evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, and reforming the grounds for possession.
- Making improvements to Section 8, giving landlords more rights to regain possession of their property, as well as improving the court process for landlords to make it quicker and easier for them to obtain possession.
- Introducing a new “lifetime deposit”, that moves with tenants from property to property, so that “tenants don’t need to save for a new deposit every time they move home”.
- Widening the scope for entries on the rogue landlord database and provide tenants with access to this information.
- The government consider the main benefits of the Renters’ Reform Bill will be:
- Improving security for tenants in the rental sector by providing them with greater protection and empowering them to hold their landlords to account.
- Strengthening the rights of landlords who need to gain possession of their property when they have a valid reason to do so.
- Improving affordability for tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next.
- Improving standards in rented accommodation, by driving out the rogue elements and helping to professionalise the sector.
The proposed legislation would only apply in England, as housing policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Government have also announced further amendments to notice periods and the eviction process.
The Notice Period - Section 21 (Form 6A)
From 1 June 2021 the previously extended to 6 months’ notice period for Section 21 will be reduced to 4 months. The Housing Minister announced that notice periods could also return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021, subject to the public health advice.
The Notice Period - Section 8
The Section 8 notice differs to the Section 21 in that it relates to breach of contract.
From the 1st June 2021, notice periods will change for the following:
- Ground 7 - Death of a Tenant (2 months’ notice)
- Ground 7B - Breach of Immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (2 weeks’ notice)
- Ground 8 - Over 4 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice)
- Ground 14 - Anti-Social Behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks’ notice)
- Ground 14A - Domestic Abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
Ground 17 - False Statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
When considering the above changes landlords should be aware that with Section 8, Grounds 1 to 8 are mandatory, and Grounds 9-17 are discretionary.
As a result of the pandemic, the backlog in the courts in some cases exceeds 6/9 months for claims to be heard. Suffice it to say mediation is still the best cause of action in my view.
The Eviction Ban
Whilst a possession order may have been granted, even pre-Covid, evictions were suspended and this current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will now come to an end on 31 May 2021.