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Renters (Reform) Bill: A Tour Bus Guide – Stop 2: Grounds for Possession

Renters (Reform) Bill: A Tour Bus Guide – Stop 2: Grounds for Possession

The Renters (Reform) Bill has been published.  What does it say? What does it mean, for landlords and for tenants?

In this series, members of the 42BR Housing Team stop off at different landmarks, considering the implications of the new law along the way.

What’s New, and What’s Not?

Michael Grant

Schedule 1 of the Renters (Reform) Bill proposes numerous changes to the existing list of grounds for possession:

  • New grounds: 1A, 1B, 2ZA, 5A-5G, 6A, 8A
  • Amendments to existing grounds: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14
  • Abolition of existing grounds: 3

While all grounds are worthy of scrutiny, this post focuses on the key topic of rent arrears, and on some other, interesting, new grounds.

Rent Arrears

Ground 8: The familiar paragraphs a) and b) of ground 8 (weekly and monthly rent arrears) are retained, but the less-used paragraphs c) and d) (quarterly and yearly rent) are to be removed.

New ground 8A: This is a new ground, entitling a landlord to recover possession where rent has been unpaid for at least one day, on three separate occasions, over a three-year period.

“Separate occasions” are defined as being where – in between – the tenant has reduced the arrears to a level below either 2 months or 8 weeks, depending on the rental period.

Occupying Landlord

Ground 1 (Landlord to occupy as only or principal home) is to be amended, so that the tenancy must have existed for at least 6 months, and the potential occupiers of the home can extend to a cohabitee, or even extended family.

There will be a new ground 1A (Property is to be sold): as with the new ground 1, the tenancy must have existed for at least 6 months, before ground 1A can be relied on.

A new section 16E will also be added to the Housing Act 1988, prohibiting the landlord from letting, marketing to let, or even authorising a letting agent to market for let, within 3 months of the date in the section 8 notice – if possession is sought under grounds 1 or 1A.

A new section 16G will make it a criminal offence to do so.

Rogue Landlord?

The new ground 6A proposes to allow a landlord to seek possession in various new circumstances, which might be seen as the landlord’s fault:

  1. The letting has caused a breach of a banning order
  2. An improvement notice has been served due to the condition of the property, caused by overcrowding
  3. There is a prohibition order in place
  4. The property is an HMO, and either a request for a licence has been refused, or a licence has been revoked
  5. The property is occupied by more people than the HMO licence allows

It remains to be seen whether ground 6A will survive subsequent readings of the Bill in Parliament; it is fair to say that it has already had some negative comment in Housing Law circles.  Why should a tenant be liable to eviction because of their landlord’s regulatory or criminal breaches?

To read the Renters (Reform) Bill, click here.


A Tour Bus Guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill 

Stop 1: Deposits, gas safety certificates and more

Stop 2: Grounds for Possession

Stop 3: Pets 

Stop 4: Homelessness

Stop 5: Rent Increases

Michael Grant

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Michael Grant

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