Government seeks to overhaul residential possession laws

The Renters (Reform) Bill (“the Bill”) was introduced into the Parliament on 17 May 2023 as part of the Government’s “commitment to bring a better deal for renters”. The legislation relates to the properties which are let under Assured Shorthold Tenancies, or “ASTs”.

The most significant change proposed in the Bill is the abolition of possession under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, also known as the “no-fault eviction”. This procedure for seeking possession enables landlords to recover possession of properties let under ASTs at the expiry of the term of the tenancy, without giving a reason or without the tenants having to establish any breach of the AST by the tenant(s).

The Bill also proposes to reform the regime governing “fault evictions”, which is currently contained in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. These proposed new changes are designed to make it easier for landlords to recover possession of their properties where tenants are at fault, including where tenants are engaging in anti-social behaviour or have a history of non-payment of rent.

Other note-worthy changes proposed in the Bill include:

·         New rights for tenants to appeal against excessive above-market rent reviews.

·         The introduction of a Private Rented Sector Ombudsman which will deal with resolving disputes between landlords and tenants.

·         The introduction of a Privately Rented Property Portal to support landlords and tenants.

·         A right for the tenants to request a pet in the property, which the landlords cannot unreasonably refuse.

These reforms are part of the Government’s larger plans to reform the social and private housing sector and to relieve pressure on Courts. The Courts have been dealing with a large backlog of possession claims following the lifting moratorium on possession claims which was put in place in response to the COVID pandemic.

At this time, the Bill is in the preliminary stages of becoming law, such that it will be some time before we have a final version of the proposed changes and can assess the application and implication of the changes. In the meantime, until the Bill passes into law, the no-fault eviction process contained in section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 remains available to Landlords.

If you have any queries on the new changes or require advice on specific cases, please do not hesitate to contact one of the expert solicitors in our Property Litigation department:

Michael Adamson – Partner and Head of Property Litigation - 0207 549 7872 -

Ganesh Khatri – Senior Associate - 20 3943 4618 -

Agnieszka Nowak – Solicitor – 0207 549 7450 –

Contact our experts for further advice

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.