October 24, 2023

Ban on no-fault evictions delayed

Joshua Watts, specialist property litigation solicitor, takes a look at the recent announcement by the Government, regarding the delay to no fault evictions.

As the Renters Reform Bill entered its next stage with its second reading in the House of Commons, Michael Gove announced that the promised ban on no-fault evictions will be indefinitely delayed until substantial reforms are undertaken to the judicial system. To clarify, the Government are proceeding with the Renters Reform Bill, the delay itself sits with their ban on no fault evictions. This article will identify what this means for landlords and tenants and will look at what reforms we may expect.

The NRLA were successful in their lobbying of the Government and it has since been confirmed that no-fault repossessions will still be a viable means through which landlords can evict tenants until improvements have been made to the courts and the possession process.

The typical lifespan of a possession case is approximately 6 months. These actions include rent arrears cases, antisocial behaviour and nuisance. The Government were evidently reactive to the possibility of landlords leaving the market when rental properties are still in such high demand and this will come as a significant blow to all tenants and particularly those who may still be evicted without a good cause. Essentially, this means that there will be little material change in the eviction process for both landlords and tenants whilst the Government considers the reforms to the legal system.

Whilst it is uncertain when no-fault evictions will be banned, the driving benefit here for both landlords and tenants is that substantial reform to the current system can be expected. In the Fourth Special Report of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, printed on 20 October 2023, a large number of reforms have been proposed that will assist all parties moving forward, if they are successfully implemented. The Government has confirmed that they will not be introducing a specialist housing court as the cost of the proposal would outweigh the benefits. Instead, the Government has identified the following target areas for improvements:

  • digitising more of the court process to assist landlords;
  • exploring the prioritisation of certain cases, including antisocial behaviour;
  • improving bailiff recruitment and retention; and
  • providing early legal advice and better signposting for tenants.

The Government are also seeking to embed a stronger mediation and dispute resolution service into the new Ombudsman.

An important note on the prioritisation of cases is that this will not include cases relating to rent arrears. According to the Report, they account for a significant proportion of claims, and prioritising them “could cause significant delays to other possession claims being heard and would not improve timeliness”.

Reforms to the judicial system within the private rented sector are critical. Faster processes have been required for some time and they are now essential to the full implementation of the Renters Reform Bill and the delivery of the ban on no-fault evictions. In the meantime, the delay of the ban will no doubt be welcomed by many Landlords. Questions will naturally remain when local authorities struggle to find suitable alternative accommodation for those facing eviction. However a faster process will mean that landlords and tenants alike will find faster resolutions.

The possession process can be incredibly stressful, long-winded and confusing at the best of times. If you have any questions surrounding no fault evictions, or have any other property litigation issues you wish to discuss, our specialist property litigation solicitors can help.

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