Retaliatory Eviction and Section 21 Notices in England
New Regulations came into effect on 1st October 2015 which prevented landlords from evicting their tenants if they were served with an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice. Previously this only applied to tenancies that had begun or were renewed after October 1st 2015 but from October 1st 2018 this applies to any application to court using a Section 21 Notice.
Retaliatory Eviction occurs where a landlord takes steps to evict a tenant because the tenant has complained about the condition of the property. The Deregulation Act 2015 contains provisions suspending the operation of Section 21 in order to protect a tenant against retaliatory eviction. As a general rule, if a landlord has already served a Section 21 notice before a complaint arises then the notice will be valid and can be acted upon by the landlord in order to evict the tenant using the Section 21 procedure.
However this legislation also places restrictions on when and how a Section 21 notice can be given to the tenant if the landlord has not already given a Section 21 notice. Where a moratorium is placed on the use of Section 21 because of a complaint about the condition of the property this means that Section 21 cannot be relied upon for at least six months.
Section 21 is the "no fault" procedure under which a landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy can evict a tenant through the Courts. No order for possession can take effect within the first six months of an assured shorthold tenancy under Section 21 in any case.
These new provisions do not affect any right for the landlord to evict the tenant through the courts on other grounds, e.g. serious rent arrears. They only restrict the use of Section 21.
These provisions are tied in with new requirements meaning that a Section 21 notice must be in a prescribed format and cannot be served during the first four months of a tenancy. These provisions only apply to new tenancies starting once the legislation is in force.
These provisions only apply in England; not Wales.
Both the Welsh and UK government have proposed a consultation on the abolition of section 21, the so called ‘no fault repossession’ route. Instead, landlords will only be able to repossess a property by using the fault based, section 8 notice route.
This is proposed for both England and Wales though as it is only at the consultation stage, no time frame for implementation has been set.
RLA research has shown that the majority of ‘no fault’ repossessions are based on the behaviour of the tenant. Evictions usually occur as a result of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. Likely because fault based repossessions can take on average half a year to complete.
The RLA takes the view that if section 21 is removed, it should only be done once landlords can reliably and quickly evict tenants who are in serious rent arrears or another breach of their tenancy. Without this certainty landlords may choose to leave the market or only rent to the most financially secure tenants, increasing homelessness as a result.
Over the coming days, the RLA will be asking for your opinions on this, as well as continuing to campaign for the interests of our members.
The rest of this Simple Guide to Retaliatory Evictions and Section 21s goes on to discuss how Section 21 notices can be invalidated when there are tenant complaints, the requirement for the landlord to provide prescribed information plus much more. Please sign in to access the whole downloadable guide. Alternatively if you're not a member, you can join today and access it for free!
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