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Abolition of Section 21 back on the menu

February 3, 2021

Following the election in December 2019, one of the first things to be announced by the new incoming Conservative Government was the introduction of a Renters’ Reform Bill.

Whilst sparse in terms of the initial details, it was clear that the pledge involved the abolition of the ‘No Fault’ eviction route available under Section 21, together with the introduction of “lifetime deposits”.

Whilst Section 21 will of course be familiar to many landlords across the country, the concept of lifetime deposits was new in that it would seek to introduce the idea of a deposit which was transferable from one property to another, with this applying whenever tenants moved.

Although the initial announcement anticipated that legislation would follow in early 2020, such legislation has –as has been the case with many other pieces– been ‘put on the back burner’ following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fast forward 9 months and the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, informed the Commons that, whilst the matter was currently a secondary priority, he was clear that the measure would still nonetheless be introduced at the “appropriate time when there is a sensible and stable economic and social terrain on which to do it”.

More than a year has now passed since the measure was first announced in December 2019. Whilst the Government remains focussed on keeping the pandemic under control, it is clear they are gearing up to finally look at bringing into force new laws after Covid. This much is evident in the recent announcement from the Junior Housing Minister, Kelly Tolhurst. In giving an update on the Bill, Miss Tolhurst confirmed that the Government planned to introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill “very soon”. In particular, Tolhurst informed the Commons that “the Government are committed to enhancing renters’ security by abolishing no-fault evictions. During the Covid-19 pandemic, our collective efforts have been focussed on protecting people during the outbreak. This is including introducing longer notice periods and preventing evictions at the height of the pandemic on public health grounds. We will introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill very soon”.

Her announcement is unsurprising given the expiry of the national repossession Stay in September 2020, together with the soon-to-expired eviction ban rules in mid-February 2021.

Whilst it is also clear that Section 21 remains an option in the meantime, landlords would do well to bear in mind that the issue of abolition is finally making its way back onto the legislative agenda, with a clear indication having been given that the matter is not going to be left on the back burner for much longer. Any landlords therefore looking to make use of Section 21 would be advised to do so sooner rather than later.

If you require any help or assistance with any of these matters, please feel free to contact our Dispute Resolution Team on 01204 377600 or email disputeresolution@afglaw.co.uk.