In earlier articles in this series, I have looked at claims for possession based on rent arrears and on ‘bad tenant’ grounds.
However, there is another category of possession – the various situations where a landlord will want possession where the tenant is not at fault. These include:
- Owner occupiers wanting their home back to live in
- Offers of suitable alternative accommodation
- Landlords wanting possession so they can carry out renovations and repair work which cannot be done with the tenant in situ.
- Landlords wanting to sell
All of these, apart from the last, are already included in the current system.
The problem with no-fault grounds …
If the object of removing section 21 is to give tenants more security, then I think we need to be careful about no-fault grounds for possession.
I am particularly worried about any new ground allowing the landlord to recover possession if he wants to sell. If we remove section 21, I can see unscrupulous landlords using this ground and then, deciding not to sell after all.
There may be penalties for landlords who do this – but as we know, local authorities are very slow to enforce the law and in the meantime, the tenant will have lost their home.
I understand this ground has been introduced in Scotland (which has already got rid of section 21) – what are people’s views on how this has worked out there?.
Notice in advance
My view is that if landlords are to have the right to evict tenants where they are not at fault, this should be flagged up in advance. For example
- If the property is let by an owner-occupier who will want it back to live in
- If the property is bought as a retirement home by someone who cannot live in it at the moment (eg if they are in the forces or foreign office and resident abroad), or
- If the property is let as a genuine student let
The notice would have to be prominent in the tenancy agreement, ideally towards the top, and the clause should be individually signed and dated by the tenant at the time they sign the tenancy agreement.
There should also be a limited number of allowable circumstances and the landlord would need to prove these in any claim.
Two types of tenancy
So this would mean that there were two types of tenancy
- Those which could be ended early by virtue of the advance notice – provided the circumstances covered by the notice applied, and
- Other tenancies which could only be ended on rent or other ‘bad tenant’ grounds.
This may result in fewer landlords deciding to invest in the private rented sector. Which may or may not be a good thing.
The government will need to decide whether they want to encourage the private rented sector or not. As at the moment, it seems unclear about what it wants.