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No ‘quick fix’ for UK’s no-fault evictions ban conundrum

The UK government’s decision to shelve a proposed ban on ‘no-fault’ evictions makes sense, but leaves landlords and tenants in an uncertain position, according to one legal expert.

Nicola Charlton, housing law expert at Pinsent Masons, said government assurances given to MPs that the ban on Section 21 evictions, known as ‘no-fault’ evictions, would not take effect until improvements were made to the court system, were “eminently sensible”.

Under the terms of the UK Renters (Reform) Bill, a ban on no-fault evictions – which allow landlords to terminate tenancies without giving any reason – would require a landlord to seek possession of a rental property relying on a section 8 notice and every case would require a court hearing, unless the tenant leaves voluntarily after being served with a notice.

In addition, the Bill would ban all rent-review clauses, meaning landlords will only be able to increase the rent by serving a notice in accordance with section 13 of the Housing Act 1988, and tenants who disagree with proposed rent increases can apply to the First Tier Tribunal, which will decide whether the increase is appropriate.

Charlton said: “There are extensive delays being experienced all across the UK court system – business and property courts are no different. On average, civil claims now take 18 months to be heard. When the court system is already under such enormous pressure, there is a real concern that it would not be able to cope with deluge of cases that would follow from the proposed reforms.”

Alongside the proposed no-fault eviction ban, the Bill, introduced to parliament in May, would make it easier for landlords to repossess their properties if tenants display anti-social behaviour or repeatedly failed to pay rent. It would also prevent landlords or agents exercising blanket bans on renting to families or people claiming benefits, and make it easier for tenants to share their homes with pets.

Announcing the decision to postpone the no-fault eviction ban indefinitely, Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities (DLUHC) told MPs it was “vital” to reform the court system first to prevent it being overwhelmed. But Charlton warned that the lack of detail from the government on what the court reforms would involve – and the funding they would require – left both landlords and tenants in an uncertain position.

“There is an element of confusion in the market, and, it would appear, no quick fix to the problems facing the government and major elements of its Renters (Reform) Bill. Once again, landlords, tenants and legal observers are all going to have to wait and see what happens next,” she added.

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