On 15 April 2019 the Government announced its proposal to remove the ability for a residential landlord to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy at the end of its fixed term without putting forward any grounds for termination. The abolition of so-called “no fault” evictions is part of the Government’s commitment to “modernising” the residential rental sector.
Broadly, there are currently two ways in which a residential landlord can terminate an assured shorthold tenancy at the end of the fixed term:
- Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988: requires the landlord to give at least two months’ notice after which the tenant must give possession of the property back to the landlord. The landlord does not have to specify any grounds under which they are seeking possession.
- Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988: not only requires the landlord to give a specified period of notice but also requires the landlord to specify the exact statutory grounds under which it is seeking possession.
Both forms of notice require compliance with a strict statutory framework and usually require service of notice in a specified form. If these requirements are not satisfied then the notice will be deemed to be null and void and any application to the Court for possession is likely to fail.
The Government is proposing to remove the ability for a landlord to serve notice under section 21 and to simultaneously widen the scope of the statutory grounds available under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This could trigger a shake-up of the residential rental sector as landlords may begin to adopt more defensive practices in light of the fact that it may prove more difficult to bring assured shorthold tenancies to an end at the end of their fixed term.
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