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The Renters’ (Reform) Bill and possession proceedings for landlords

If you are letting a residential property and need the courts to help you recover possession, you will have certain rights and responsibilities. Next year, due to the Renters’ (Reform) Bill, possession proceedings for landlords are likely to change. This will also affect letting agencies acting on behalf of landlords. We explain the process and changes in law.

What is the Renters’ (Reform) Bill?

There has been widespread panic amongst UK landlords this year as a result of the proposed Renters’ (Reform) Bill, which is expected to come into force in October 2024. There are many aspects to the Bill, but the main worry is that it will be harder to evict tenants; this is not necessarily the case.

The government is set to abolish Section 21 “no fault” evictions, empowering tenants to challenge poor landlords without the fear of losing their homes. The Bill will end fixed-term tenancies and blanket bans on tenant demographics and make it easier for tenants to have pets. It will also force landlords to join a mandatory Ombudsman scheme and it will introduce the new Decent Homes Standard.

But many landlords are unaware that in fact the Bill will give them greater powers to recover their property. Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 will be overhauled, providing stronger grounds for possession. If a tenant causes damage to a property, for example, or they breach their tenancy agreement in specific ways.

Although the overall aim was to increase protection for tenants and target criminal landlords, the latest reforms will help landlords to evict anti-social tenants. There will be a broader range of harmful or disruptive activities, which can be cited as a reason for eviction. As a result, evictions of anti-social tenants could become quicker. Where the tenant has been willfully irresponsible, landlords will also be able to reduce notice periods.

Once the Bill is in force, it will be easier for landlords to:

  • Regain possession from anti-social tenants.

  • Regain possession from tenants in rent arrears.

  • Move a close family member into the rental property.

  • Move into the rental property.

  • Sell the rental property.

The process for evicting a tenant

If you are experiencing a problem with a tenant, try to resolve the issue through a face-to-face discussion. If this is not possible, then you may need to seek a resolution through the courts. Once the Renters’ (Reform) Bill is in force, you will need a clear reason why you require the tenant to leave and will only be able to apply using Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. At the time of writing (June 2023), you can still give the tenant a Section 8 or Section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice. This should include the date when you would like the tenant to leave the property.

If the tenant has not left the property by the date specified in the notice, you can apply to the court for a possession order. The tenant can submit a defence to the court, which could include legal reasons why the possession order should not be made. They might decide to make a counterclaim or ask for more time to vacate the property, for example, due to extreme hardship. If the tenant submits a defence is received, you will receive a copy from the court.

If you have used the court’s ‘accelerated procedure’ with a Section 21 notice, the judge will consider the claim documents. They will look at any defence received and can make a possession order without a hearing taking place.

Where the claim goes to a hearing, the court will inform you of the date and they will provide you with any further directions. The court will request an electronic copy of all of the case documents, which you will need to send to them. At the possession hearing, the judge will then decide whether to make the possession order.

If the possession order is granted, but the tenant does not leave by the specified date in the order, you can apply to the court for a writ of possession or warrant. The tenant can then apply to suspend the writ or warrant. This can be enforced by a county court bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), who will then carry out the eviction. They have to provide at least 14 days’ notice of the eviction date to you and the tenant.

Legal advice for landlords

In recent years, the residential landlord market has faced many difficult challenges. For landlords, the complexities in changes to law and regulation can seem overwhelming. Before taking any action or moving forward with any possession proceedings, always speak to a solicitor specialised in residential law.

Salusbury Harding & Barlow will help you navigate and resolve tenancy disputes, ensuring you stay on the right side of the latest legislation. We regularly act for landlords seeking to evict tenants and/or who are trying to recover rent arrears. Our professional residential law team can advise on all aspects of residential tenancies. Whether you have one property or a large portfolio, our residential property team can help and we’ll explain any changes in law.

If you’re a landlord experiencing difficulties with a tenant, please get in touch. Email: to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.



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