If you are a private renter in the UK, you may have encountered the term “no fault eviction” or a “Section 21 notice”.
A no fault eviction is when a landlord can evict a tenant from their property without giving a reason, as long as they follow a legal process. This can affect tenants who have not breached their contract and wish to stay in their home.
The government has proposed plans to ban no fault evictions in England as part of the Renters Reform Bill in the next few years. This will change the rights and responsibilities of both renters and landlords and require landlords to provide a valid reason for eviction.
Update (24th October 2023): On 23rd October, the government announced that the ban on no fault evictions in England will be indefinitely delayed. According to the Housing Secretary Michael Gove, before legal reforms can be rolled out improvements need to be made to the court system, including moving more of the process online to speed up possession claims. A timescale has not yet been given for how long these reforms will take to achieve.
Let's find out what no fault evictions are, how they work, what to do if you receive a section 21 notice and what the potential changes mean for you.
What is a no fault eviction?
A no fault eviction is when a landlord uses Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to end an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) without having to prove any fault on the part of the tenant. This means that they do not need to give a reason for wanting you to leave, such as rent arrears, damage, or nuisance.
Landlords can use Section 21 at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (also known as a periodic tenancy). They must give at least two months’ notice in writing and follow certain rules and procedures. If tenants do not leave by the date specified in the notice, the landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. If the court grants the order, the landlord can then ask for a warrant of possession and have bailiffs evict you from the property.
How are no fault evictions changing?
The government thinks that no fault evictions are unfair and cause unnecessary hardship and disruption for renters. That is why they have committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions in England as part of the Renters Reform Bill, a new bill that introduces changes in the current legislation. It will also introduce other reforms to improve the rights and protections of renters, such as:
Ending blanket bans on benefit claimants or families with children
Requiring landlords to consider requests to allow pets
Giving tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice and unjustified rent increases
Extending the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector
Reforming the court system to make it faster and easier for landlords and tenants to resolve disputes
The government has not yet confirmed when the bill will be introduced or come into force, but it is expected to happen sometime in 2023 or 2024..
The bill is expected to have a significant impact on the private rented sector, affecting millions of landlords and tenants. According to a report by Shelter, the bill could prevent up to 216,000 evictions each year, save renters £1.4 billion in moving costs, and improve the quality and safety of rented homes. However, some landlords associations have expressed concerns that the bill could worsen the housing crisis by reducing the supply and affordability of rental properties**.
The government has said that it will balance the interests of both landlords and tenants and ensure that landlords have sufficient grounds and processes to regain possession of their property when they have a valid reason. It has also pledged to invest £12 billion in affordable housing over five years and support local authorities to enforce standards in the private rented sector**.
What to do if you receive a no fault eviction section 21 notice
If your landlord gives you a section 21 notice, it means they want you to leave your home by a certain date. You don’t have to leave your home straight away, but you should take action as soon as possible.
The first thing you should do is check if your section 21 notice is valid. There are many reasons why a section 21 notice might be invalid, including:
Your landlord didn't give you enough notice
Your landlord didn’t protect your deposit or give you information about it
Your landlord didn’t use the correct form or made a mistake on it
Your landlord didn’t give you the required documents, such as an energy performance certificate or a gas safety certificate
Your landlord is trying to evict you because you complained about the property
Charged you fees or deposits that are not allowed by law
If your section 21 notice is invalid, you can challenge it and stay in your home. For more information about challenging a section 21 we recommend that you get legal advice from a solicitor or a housing adviser.
If your section 21 notice is valid…
If your section 21 notice is valid, you should try to negotiate with your landlord. You might be able to persuade them to let you stay longer or help you find somewhere else to live. You should also start looking for alternative accommodation and contact your local council for help. They might be able to offer you emergency housing or support.
If you don’t leave by the date on your section 21 notice, your landlord will have to go to court to evict you. They will have to apply for a possession order and pay a fee. You will get papers from the court telling you when the hearing will take place. You can go to the hearing and explain why you think you should stay in your home. The court will decide whether to grant or refuse the possession order.
Finally, if the court grants the possession order, your landlord can then apply for a warrant of possession and have bailiffs evict you from the property. You will get a notice from the bailiffs telling you when they will come. You should try to move out before they arrive, as they can force entry and remove your belongings.
How can Lawhive help you?
Are you facing a no fault eviction or other type of housing issue? It may be wise to seek legal advice. Doing so can help you to understand your rights, options or challenge an unfair eviction notice or possession order. Lawhive can help you find a landlord and tenant solicitor and can assist you with your case.