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Published On: November 13, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

Housing Court, section 21 and longer tenancies: a radical shake-up for the private rented sector?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government today launched a consultation concerning the proposed ‘Housing Court’. In the consultation ‘Considering the case for a Housing Court: call for evidence’ the Government invite respondents to share their experiences of the current system of courts and tribunals.

This is on the face of a consultation relating to the organisation of the justice system, but it is clear that the Government view court reform as part of their reform of landlord and tenant law. A press release from MHCLG makes an explicit link between Housing Court and longer tenancies:

“Changes to further streamline court processes could also provide confidence for landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies, by making it easier for responsible landlords who provide a high-quality service to regain possession of their tenancy should they need to do so.”

Meanwhile, the drive to abolish section 21 notices and put an end to “no fault eviction” appears to be gathering some momentum. This campaign, spearheaded by Generation Rent, but backed by a range of voices notably including the Times leader in June 2018, aims to scrap the law which allows private landlords in England to evict assured shorthold tenants without giving a reason.

I wrote about this campaign last December after it was reported that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government would end “no-fault” evictions. My assessment then was this proposal was pretty unlikely to become law – and it would not be supported by the current government. That prediction now looks shaky at best; although the Government has not yet indicated interest in entirely scrapping section 21 notices, it has invited views on proposals for a minimum 3-year tenancy term with a 6-month break clause.

Discussion and policy proposals across the political spectrum are now focussed on which major reforms to make to private sector tenancies – and there can be no doubt that further significant reforms are coming.

This consultation is open until 22 January 2019 and responses are invited from landlords and tenants.

Robin Stewart

Joint Manager of Private Sector Residential Landlord and Tenant

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