By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Scrapping S21 helps nuisance tenants, warns property lawyer

A respected property lawyer is accusing the government of helping nuisance tenants at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.

Ian Narberth, a solicitor at law firm DMH Stallard, says scrapping Section 21 eviction powers - a pledge contained in the Renters Reform Bill - will backfire with unintended consequences.

He says the Bill allows agents and landlords to evict for behaviours ‘capable of causing’ a nuisance or annoyance as opposed to behaviours ‘likely to cause’ a nuisance or annoyance. 


He claims that although the government says this means that a wider range of tenant behaviours can be considered in court, this actually misses the point.

“Lawyers may argue about the subtle change in wording, but most cases don’t get to court and by the time they do the behaviour is serious and anti-social, not just capable of being so. Until now landlords served section 21 notices on anti-social tenants and did not need to go to court.

“Many victims of Anti Social Behaviour are frightened to give evidence. With the massive backlog in cases, it can be many months before cases are heard. Witnesses may fear harassment during that time by an aggressive neighbour and their family and friends. Landlords can give no guarantee of succeeding and witnesses will fear reprisals, especially if the eviction fails.

“Instead of landlords dealing with the problem simply and confidentially, abolishing section 21 means troublemakers must have their day in court and many victims will choose to suffer in silence or else leave their homes rather than give evidence.

“The government will be helping nuisance tenants at the expense of the weak and vulnerable, which is the opposite of what it is claiming.”  

Currently a Section 21 warns the tenant that they will need to vacate the property after a stipulated period, and the landlord is not required to give a reason. 

A Section 8 Notice must give a reason or reasons described in law as ‘grounds for possession’. There are 17 official grounds for possession. 

Agents and landlords often use a Section 8 Notice when the tenant breaks the terms of the tenancy agreement.

Research carried out by Leaders Romans Group has found that Section 21 is rarely overused, and even more rarely misused. 

LRG surveyed landlords across its estate agency brands and found that 80 per cent of landlords had never used Section 21. Of those that had, 63 per cent did so because the tenant was in breach of the lease, and 38 per cent used a ‘no fault’ eviction.

LRG says that while it’s fully supportive of ‘professionalising’ the private rented sector, many of the proposed changes in the Renters Reform Bill - including the repeal of Section 21 - would pose new challenges to some landlords in some situations and could penalise both landlords and tenants.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Ian is Absolutely correct. The real victims will be Council Tax payers and voters who are neighbours of these ASB tenants ( not landlords )
    Also, incoming - compliant Tenants will be prevented from accessing a place to live and remain in Emergency, expensive and unsuitable accommodation, whilst the painfully slow and unfit for purpose legal machinations creak away towards evicting Rogue Tenants.
    Yes, - there are Rogue tenants, the word isn't solely attributable to Landlords Mr Gove.

    Barry X

    You are right - I absolutely agree too.

    There will be many, many other unintended consequences beside the one(s) Ian Narberth has correctly and accurately picked up on.

    I've been a 'hands on' landlord since 1996 dealing with all aspects of tenancies including occasionally self-representing in court - as a litigant in person - in eviction cases. Even when there were totally solid grounds for eviction under s.8 and I had copious inarguable evidence I learned to *always* serve a s.21 in addition just to remove the uncertainty because Judges ALWAYS do their best to find a way (if they possibly can) to favour and side with tenants against landlords, no matter how awful the tenants or how serious and irretrievable the rental arrears situation....

    For example I once had a case (that I believe is typical) where after waiting about 4 months (including all the protocol time etc) to have it heard (in those days there was virtually no backlog or delay) the tenant actually turned up at the hearing, looked a bit ruff (I'd had complaints again that morning about another noisy party in his flat, but that wasn't what I was evicting him for - it was the by then easily provable more than 3 months rent arrears), apologised for having done no preparation and having nothing to say (I spent a vast amount of time and effort on this spread over several weeks leading up to the hearing) only for the tenant to the "explain" (in quotes because he didn't even manage to sound sincere) that he hadn't realised until the last minute that "his home was at stake" and he needed more time to get proper advice.... the Judge immediately told him about the Citizen's Advice Beureau being a free service "as a starting point" and adjourned the case for him to be given time to find out what he already knew perfectly well, i.e. how to game the system!

    Luckily I also had the s.21 and simply got a possession order a few weeks later without having to explain or do anything much (this was before a succession of laws steadily undermined the s.21)... the only minor downside of that was the tenant didn't get a CCJ money judgement and I didn't get awarded a an order for the sums due... but I got the flat back and started earning rent again... without the s. 21 it would probably have been a vast amount of work and worry, with at least one more - possibly several - hearing(s) over the next year or so and a spectacular financial hit.

    Thanks to the socialist Tories we can expect plenty more of that to come!

  • icon

    @ BarryX, they are not my Tories.

    Barry X

    Nor mine!

  • icon

    They haven't been Tories since Cameron and his dreadful Chancellor Osborne were elected.


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up