It is beginning to feel a little bit like Groundhog Day as Michael Gove has once again re-stated the Government’s intentions to abolish so-called ‘no fault evictions’ prior to the next General Election.  This is the ability of landlords to serve a Section 21 Notice giving at least two months’ notice to seek possession of a residential property.

The abolition has long since been the Government’s intention, having been pledged in the Conservative Party Manifesto ahead of the 2019 General Election.  After a few stop-starts over the years that followed, a significant step forward was taken as part of the Renters (Reform) Bill raised last year. 

Back in the King’s Speech in November, it was thought that the reforms to the private rented sector (including the abolition of section 21 notices) would be contingent on improving the court system.  It is not clear from Gove’s comments whether this remains the intention, with the Government having previously committed to investing £1.2 million to make the court process more efficient for landlords if they can demonstrate a ground for seeking possession.  There is also the practical issue of any additional funding actually working its way through the court system to change the position on the ground.  Backlogs for obtaining and enforcing a possession order through the courts continue to be significant and additional funding is unlikely to alter the position on the ground overnight.   In figures published by the Ministry of Justice, the average time for a landlord to obtain possession increased to 23.7 weeks in October to December 2023 up from 21.7 weeks in the same period in 2022.

There will be concern from all sides that the legislation is well-drafted and strikes an appropriate balance between the rights of landlords and tenants to avoid unintended consequences.  With the General Election having to take place by January 2025 at the very latest, that leaves little room for manoeuvre in Parliament’s timetable.  At present, the date for the third reading of the Bill in the House of Commons has yet to be announced.

We continue to track the developments on our Essential Residential hub and our timeline: Evolution of the private rented sector.