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No fault evictions, Landlords take note - you need to get cracking!

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Private rental Landlords have long enjoyed the advantages of no-fault evictions, which can be initiated using Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 ("the Act"); however, the property possession landscape is about change dramatically.

The government has already committed to abolishing no fault evictions, with a formal announcement expected to be made during today's Queens speech. If this is indeed the case, then private rental landlords looking to evict tenants using Section 21 in the near future need to get cracking.

Many landlords rely upon Section 21 of the Act because obtaining possession by this method is generally much cheaper and more efficient than pursuing Section 8 possession proceedings. The proceedings tend to be less litigious (there is no need to prove breach of covenant) and it is not always necessary to have a hearing, which makes the process much more streamlined. However, the use of Section 21 has long been subject to criticism, hence the significant changes that are likely to take place within the forthcoming year.

Most criticism of the Section 21 possession process relates to the fact that it undermines ongoing tenant security, and is often used by unscrupulous landlords indiscriminately and maliciously. For example, some Landlords use the process at the end of the contractual terms to spite tenants who have made complaints for entirely legitimate reasons, and this is exactly this type of behaviour that the government is seeking to rule out.

Removing Section 21 will undoubtedly serve to protect tenants from bad landlords, and that can only be a good thing. However, it will also be a significant loss to good landlords looking to use to process for genuine reasons. For example, some landlords (many with only one rental property) use Section 21 to recover property for their own housing needs, or due to other financial or personal difficulties. Without Section 21, it will become increasingly difficult and time consuming for such landlords to recover possession of their property, not to mention increasingly expensive.

If you are a landlord with tenants approaching the end of their contractual term, and you are looking to recover your property using the Section 21 possession process (subject to the relevant paperwork being in order), then you must act sooner rather than later. Section 21 will not be around forever, and the countdown to its abolishment has clearly begun.

If you are a private rental landlord and would like further advice regarding any of the issues contained within this article, please contact the Dispute Resolution team on 01245 493939.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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