The Renters (Reform) Bill - abolition of no-fault evictions indefinitely delayed

Only five months after its first reading on 17 May 2023, the future is already in doubt for key aspects of the Renters (Reform) Bill.

The changes proposed by the Bill include the abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, meaning that landlords would be required to rely on the more combative section 8 process. This requires a landlord to make out a ground of possession, with an opportunity for the tenant to dispute that ground, and typically leads to a court hearing before possession will be ordered.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee published a report on the draft Bill on 9 February 2023, and the government’s response to that report was published 20 October 2023 - ahead of the Bill’s second reading in Parliament on 23 October 2023.

The response states that the abolition of section 21 will not come into force until “sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts”.

These proposed improvements include digitising more of the court process to make it simpler and easier, and exploring the prioritisation of certain cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour, while rejecting the proposal by the Committee that a new specialist Housing Court is introduced.

The current court system is undeniably under severe pressure, with pandemic related delays still being felt.

The National Residential Landlords Association reports that it already takes an average of over half a year for the courts to process possession claims where landlords have good cause, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, and it is easy to see how without further reforms, the proposed changes made by the Bill could significantly impact the court system.

That said, such reform - particularly increased digitisation - has been promised for many years without visible progress.

The government’s response also considers the impact of the Bill on private rental student tenancies, which are currently included in its remit. The response proposes that rather than introducing a carve-out that would retain fixed term tenancies for students, a new ground for possession should be included in the Bill to facilitate the annual cyclical nature of that specific market.

The Bill will now continue to Committee Stage and undergo line-by-line scrutiny. As it will not receive Royal Assent during this session of parliament, however, a continuation motion has been passed to ensure it is a 'carried over' bill in the next session of parliament.

A ban on "no-fault" evictions in England will be indefinitely delayed until after the court system is reformed, the government has announced.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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