Renters Reform Bill: ‘no fault’ Section 21 rental evictions to be banned

Rental properties in London  (Matt Writtle)
Rental properties in London (Matt Writtle)

The Government published its plans to end no-fault evictions in a white paper on June 16.

Proposed legislation for the Renters Reform Bill also includes an end to blanket bans on benefit claimants or families with children, doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge unjustified hikes.

If legislated in full, the Bill would also mean landlords are obliged to consider requests to allow pets.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: "For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair ‘no fault’ evictions orders hanging over them."

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: "The Renters Reform Bill is a game-changer for England's 11 million private renters."

“Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason.”

The Renters Reform Bill will be formally presented to Parliament this parliamentary year, so before the end of spring 2023.

What are Section 21 evictions?

If you are a private tenant, a landlord can ask you to move out by issuing a Section 21 or Section 8 notice.

A Section 8 notice can be issued if a landlord already has a reason to evict a tenant, such as rent arrears, damage to the property or if there have been neighbour complaints.

A Section 21 notice is commonly referred to as a "no-fault eviction" as landlords don't need to give a reason for the eviction.

With Section 21 notices, tenants currently have just two months to move out.

Most landlords assume that tenants will leave within two months of a Section 21 notice, however landlords must apply to a court after the notice period ends to start the eviction process. The total time for the court process can take anywhere between a few weeks to several months.

Weren't Section 21 notices banned years ago?

The Government committed to ending Section 21 notices back in April 2019.

A temporary pause was granted in March 2020, extending the eviction notice period from two months to three. This initial ban was later extended to September 21 2020, and landlords were required to give tenants a six-month notice period. The measures ended on 31 May 2021 and from 1 June notice periods were reduced to four months.

The long-awaited “no fault” evictions ban was expected to be unveiled in autumn 2021 but this was then pushed back to spring 2022.

The Government published its Levelling Up White Paper in February 2022 in which it recommitted to scrapping Section 21 notices and bringing forward the Renters Reform Bill.

What will be in the Renters Reform Bill?

The Renters Reform Bill is expected to include sweeping reforms to the private rented sector as well as an abolishment of Section 21 notices.

On June 16, the Government published proposals for future leglistation — a white paper — for the Renters Reform Bill.

Measures include stronger powers for tenants to challenge poor practice, unjustified rent increases and leave or be repaid rent for non-decent homes.

As well as the end to no-fault Section 21 evictions, the Decent Homes Standard — which states homes must be free from serious health and safety hazards — will be extended to the private rental sector for the first time.

It will also become illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.

And tenants will be given the right to request a pet in their home, requests the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

As outlined in the Queen’s Speech on May 10, the Renters Reform Bill will be introduced during this parliamentary year — so before the end of spring 2023.

How has the industry reacted?

If legislated in full over the coming months, the Renters Reform Bill is being called the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector for 30 years.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: "The Renters Reform Bill is a game-changer for England's 11 million private renters."

"Scrapping unfair evictions will level the playing field. For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear."

London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf said: “The removal of landlords’ ability to end tenancies by way of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions is no surprise as has been mooted for several years.

“It can’t be right for long-term, well-behaved tenants to be asked to leave.

“However, it’s not reasonable either for landlords having to spend thousands evicting a tenant not paying their rent or exhibiting anti-social behaviour. Therefore, the alternative Section 8 eviction route must allow landlords to regain possession of their properties if required for their own use or required for future tenants. Otherwise, overall supply will fall and rents will rise.’

Nathan Emerson, CEO of lettings agents’ group Propertymark said: “If Ministers really do want to create a ‘fairer private rented sector’, they must work with the sector to ensure these reforms are carefully balanced and any interventions to achieve short-term objectives do not constrain the market in the longer term.”

“The private rental market is already under huge strain with renters outstripping available properties. This increased demand comes as more owners of homes for rent are choosing to sell them.

“Many of the rental properties sold over the past four years have not returned to the rental market.”