As Renters' Reform Bill due for 2nd reading in Parliament today, Govt has said that S. 21 ban won't happen until after court system also reformed

Big Ben And House Of Parliament At Night London 2021 09 02 15 21 18 Utc

The Bill is scheduled to go through its next legislative stage in the House of Commons today (with a planned protest by renters' groups outside Parliament this evening).

The Bill, once passed into law, will amongst other reforms, ban the use by landlords of section 21 no fault evictions which have historically been used by unscrupulous landlords to evict tenants who complain about disrepair in their homes.

However, the Government has announced that such a ban will not take effect until after the court systems covering rented accommodation repossession actions have also been reformed. The announcement was made in the Government's response (20th October 2023) to the House of Commons' Housing Select Committee's recommendation that a new 'specialist Housing Court' be set up to deal with rented housing repossessions "as a way of unblocking the housing court process." The committee had also said "it is absolutely essential that the government significantly increase the courts' ability to process possession claims quickly and efficiently and in a way that is fair to both landlords and tenants. This must involve prioritising and fast-tracking all possession claims in respect of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour."

The Government response says that it is working closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Courts and Tribunal Service "to drive forward improvements to the court possession process so that users have a modern, digital service that will align with the reforms to tenancy law." Significantly, it added that "Implementation of the new system will not take place until we judge that sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts. That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place."

Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) said ".... we welcome the approach taken by ministers to ensure court improvements are made before section 21 ends .... We will continue to engage positively with all parties as the Bill progresses through Parliament."

Any delay post the Bill becoming an Act and the promised ban coming into force may, to an extent, disappoint or worry tenants' groups but for the ban to work, all the ducks do need to be in a row and, without a reformed court process, those ducks will be in flight only on a wing and a prayer.

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