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Section 21 reform slammed with warning it may backfire on tenants

Government plans to end so-called ‘no fault’ evictions may backfire and not improve tenants’ security at all.

That’s the warning from Osbornes Law, a London firm responding to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation on S21.

The MHCLG proposes to abolish assured shorthold tenancies so that landlords cannot use S21 to evict tenants at the end of fixed-term tenancy without providing a reason or avenue for challenge.


Instead, it will increase the circumstances under which a section 8 notice to quit can be issued to a tenant, whether for breaching the terms of their tenancy agreement or other reasons, such as the landlord wanting to sell the property or use it for a family member. The MHCLG also promises faster redress through the courts.

But Shilpa Mathuradas, head of property litigation at Osbornes Law, says despite publicity about rogue landlords seeking to evict tenants for no good reason, they represent a tiny minority of property owners. 

She cites research by the Residential Landlord Association which found that 84 per cent of landlords who had used S21 did so because of tenant arrears, and 56 per cent because of the damage to property and antisocial behaviour.

She says: “If the process is to be abolished, then landlords need to be assured that a workable system is available to ensure that where landlords rightfully seek possession this is obtained quickly and efficiently without significant cost to landlords, who are often in a position where rent is not being paid where there are ongoing court proceedings.

“If a landlord is rightfully claiming possession based on rent arrears or any another fault of the tenant, this is not going to stop because the section 21 process is abolished. Landlords will simply pursue the tenants through the more expensive and lengthier section 8 process. This will not create stability and security for the tenant.”

Her firm believes that more factual disputes, and the need for courts to resolve them, will be unavoidable as a result of the reforms:.

It insists tenants must be allowed to defend allegations of fault, and to bring a counterclaim if appropriate. Judicial scrutiny is the safeguard for both sides, and unsuccessful parties to disputes can expect cost orders to be made against them.

The firm also warns that courts are now so clogged up with disputes that claims can take many months before they are listed for a first hearing.

Currently landlords using the section 8 process have to show two months’ arrears at the date of service of the notice and hearing to be guaranteed possession. Tenants who are in arrears often bring them to below two months before the hearing to avoid this, by which time the landlord has incurred extensive legal costs.



The consultation suggests reducing this to one month, and Mathuradas says that whilst the same scenario could arise, “at least a tenant will have to reduce much more of the arrears before a possession order is made. Indeed an argument can be made that the arrears should be zero by the time of the hearing to avoid a mandatory order”.

She adds: “I would welcome a provision which allows a mandatory possession order to be granted where a pattern of behaviour emerges and the landlord has had to issue possession proceedings several times only to find at the date of the hearing only to find that the arrears have been reduced to below the requirement for a mandatory order.”

  • jeremy clarke

    Somewhere along the way government all their highly paid advisers along with all these do good so called charities have lost sight of who owns the property! I'm certain that if the tables were turned and tenants became landlords overnight, they would never agree to this hatchet job on the PRS.

  • icon

    You would be just as well to sell now. Good luck to all those tenants who will be issued s21 before this ridiculous raft of changes kicks in. With housing stock down 20% if all accidental landlord sell instead, bigger landlords selling off stock and large companies getting a strong legal panel, rents will sky rocket. So what next? Rent caps?

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    • 15 October 2019 10:57 AM

    Pattern of behaviour!?
    So a LL might have to spend a £1000 before a pattern of behaviour has been established then possession guaranteed for rent default.
    1 month and 1 day is 2 months of rent arrears where rent is due in advance monthly.
    Day after LL should be able to remove tenant if LL wants to with Police assistance if necessary.
    No court action required.
    It is very much a black and white issue.....................the tenant is either in 2 months rent arrears or he ISN'T.
    If he isn't then LL cannot remove him.
    In practice a tenant could maintain a running 1 month's of rent arrears permanently.
    Most LL would prefer that than the current state of affairs.

  • Neil Cobbold

    I think everyone is shouting the same reply. In most instances landlords or agents don't use a Section 21 as a no fault eviction, it is just the method of choice due to the system of discretionary grounds. If the government were as part of this process to fix the current issues, make repossession for fault circumstances - clearer, less costly and speedier, the removal of section 21 would not be met with such resistance. The worry at the moment seems to be that until the market sees the guidance after the consultation period, then there is no confidence that the issues will be fixed before the change is made.

    James B

    The problem is guidance is written by tenant supporters in government chasing votes at any cost

  • icon

    Above all It seem the judges don't have any consideration for the amount of time money effort expenses heartache and sheer stress landlords have to go through before the cases reach the judges desks. It seems they find it ridiculously amusing for 1 - the landlord to be in tremendous debt 2 - to incur further expenses to see the judge at trial and then for the judge to throw cases out at £355 a time
    I wonder if the judge makes £355 per day or more for throwing landlord £355 away so un reservedly.
    Its the judges that are the ones to blame here in terms of making the tenants aware that when it comes to court the judge will be inclined to support the tenant knowing what it takes for decent landlords to bring rogue tenants to court for either unlawfully hold ( day light robbery) this is civil court. If this was criminal courts unlawfully hold and paying money which is not right full a persons is called a criminal offence. The judges are to blame here as they don't care and wont care as it doesn't affect them. If judges were landlord I bet you £1000 they would tell their tenant that they are judges as a warning because they wouldn't want the mockery that landlords have to go through to get possession of their belongings
    The system needs to be re gigged NOT the processes

  • S l
    • S l
    • 15 October 2019 15:47 PM

    Both judges, ministers and the pro tenant supporters eg shelter, council etc are to be blame. It is so easy to be swayed by words and not use their head to think impartially . More so when they have no clue as to how the business is done and losses are caused by rogue tenants and those who support them. Thats one way to bring down the economy

  • icon
    • 15 October 2019 17:15 PM

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  • Bryan Shields

    Its a no brainer yet again. They way it will all pan out in the tenants favor as usual & the result is more LL's bailing out of the new lose/lose protocol.
    What is needed is a "Court", fast track with a complete set of judges that are in contact with the pavement reality of being a LL in all its aspects, council rules of no pay rent till sherrif officer appears & keepall your welth in the budgies name so you cant be held even with a private claim in a lesser court.

  • icon

    What will happen regarding the how to rent booklet and epc? S8 it’s not relevant so will they be defunct?

    • 15 October 2019 23:39 PM

    No it would seem these current S21 requirements are to be transferred across to and included in the S8 process.

    If you think the S21 process is tortuous just wait until LL are forced to use the S8 process.
    Could easily take 2 years to evict.
    By then most rental properties of rent defaulting tenants will have been repossessed by the lender and the LL probably bankrupted.
    It won't concern the rent defaulting tenant as they will always find another mug LL to take them on as LL refuse to use the LRS Network referencing service where they can speak to previous LL.
    So those mug LL using normal sub-standard referencing that most LA use will continue to be caught out by these miscreant rent defaulting tenants.


    It’s killed too many trees!!!!

  • S l
    • S l
    • 16 October 2019 09:01 AM

    Hi Paul whats LRS and how do i contact them? thanks

    • 19 October 2019 23:04 PM


  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Costs orders against Tenants, Ha ha - are they serious.
    If a tenants up in court fighting Possession owing £ 000's in outstanding Rent, what chance do they think there is of Tenant paying Costs !!!
    Really ?

  • icon

    Might does not come into the discussion. "Will" is the word that should be used. This has been tried and it was a disaster then and it will be again. It is only a shame that this bit of history is beyond the concept of history that snowflakes can encompass. There wasn't even an internet back then. The only options to get the message over are to read some very old newspapers or ask an older baby boomer. I can fill in the boomer bit. I was newly married, eager, and young looking for a house. We were royally stuffed by this stupid idea. It caused us real hardship and we had to live on the breadline until Mrs. Thatcher got property laws back to some of normality that represented probably a thousand years of accumulated experience and law.


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