Emotive and meaningless words ‘no fault’ referring to s.21 notices

Emotive and meaningless words ‘no fault’ referring to s.21 notices

11:03 AM, 21st March 2019, About 5 years ago 10

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Last year, Property118 contributor Dr Ros Beck wrote a critique, under the banner of The Landlords Union, of a Richard Bilton/BBC Panorama programme in which he was calling for the removal of S.21 altogether, that questioned and strongly criticised the use of the term ‘no fault’ when describing S.21 Notices. Click here to read the article.

Obviously this is very emotive language and something that is rarely, if ever, true because we all know landlords do not evict tenants for no reason (even if the reason is not officially recorded anywhere).

As pointed out by ‘Old Mrs Landlord’ on page 8 of the comments in this recent thread, Click here, the current Section 21 Notice known as Form 6a (Click here to download) includes the words ‘no fault’ on the form itself and even explains that it is this particular form a landlord should use when issuing a ‘no fault’ Notice.

This prompted me to do a bit of research on Form 6a and to see if this wording was a new addition or not. I happen to have the very first version of Form 6a saved before, even, the DCLG’s (as it was then) logo was added to the top. It used to come as a 6-page pack that included the full Statutory Instrument wording in the first three pages, then the two page Notice itself, followed by one page of explanatory notes.

The first few pages that make up the official Statutory Instrument wording -the proper ‘grown-up’ Parliamentary/legal stuff- makes no mention of ‘no fault’ and nor should it. Suggestion or emotion has no place in legislation, here or anywhere else. So good news there.

However, both the Notice (which is in different typeface and very likely written by a totally different department) and the explanatory notes have managed to have the words ‘no fault’ slipped into them numerous times. This is nothing short of infiltration!

In the versions since the original, the Statutory Instrument wording has been dropped and the explanatory notes are now a separately downloadable document, but as discovered by Old Mrs Landlord, the no fault wording remains.

Narratives and politics change all of the time, but to have these meaningless words added to legal documents is outrageous.

Has anyone else noticed this and what do the NLA/RLA propose to do about this type of Government-level misuse of power? I would urge members of those organisations to contact them for comment and their proposals to stamp out abuse such as we clearly have here.

Luke P

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Sean Graveney

11:26 AM, 21st March 2019, About 5 years ago

I completely agree that it is needlessly emotive and totally incorrect to label all Section 21 notices as ‘no fault’ but isn’t it just as disingenuous to state that ‘no fault’ is rarely if ever the case? A landlord taking a possession to live in or sell the property would be ‘no fault’ wouldn’t it?

Dr Rosalind Beck

14:45 PM, 21st March 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Sean Graveney at 21/03/2019 - 11:26
What I would like to know, though, is how the wording has now changed. What was the mechanism for that? Did, for example, Shelter, lobby behind the scenes to get these words added to the legal documents? And is that process in itself legal? Can I also lobby to have some different words put on it or on any other forms which I'd like amended? Explanations need to be demanded. I believe it is the role of organisations such as the RLA and NLA to take this on and find out what the hell is going on.

Appalled Landlord

15:34 PM, 21st March 2019, About 5 years ago

The term “no fault” is a nick-name that came about because there is no requirement to prove to a judge that there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement in the form of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. However, the use of Section 21 does not mean that the tenant was not in breach, on the contrary.

Section 21 is chosen in preference to Section 8 to evict delinquent tenants because it costs much less in time and money, and does not require a court case unless the tenant ignores it and fails to move out at the end of the two month notice period. Even then, it does not always require an appearance in court.

There is no justification for including the nick-name in the government’s form. Is someone trying to deter the uninitiated from using S 21 in cases of tenant delinquency?

Form 6A says “This form should be used where no fault possession of accommodation let under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is sought under Section 21 (1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988.”

However, the above Act does not require, for a Section 21 notice to be valid, that the tenants have always complied with the terms of the tenancy agreement. The insertion of “no fault” is positively misleading.

It also conflicts with advice on the government’s website , which says:
“You can evict tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy using a Section 21 or Section 8 notice, or both.
Use a Section 8 notice if your tenants have broken the terms of the tenancy.”

For Section 8 to apply the tenant must have been at fault. If you can use Section 21 as well, then form 6A can be used when the tenant is at fault. The words “no fault” should be removed from it.

terry sullivan

10:59 AM, 22nd March 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Dr Rosalind Beck at 21/03/2019 - 14:45
Dont hold your breath


7:40 AM, 23rd March 2019, About 5 years ago

This wording is often spun to government advantage as they use the number of no fault eviction figures to justify its banning
Government are well aware that such figures mislead as it’s so often used for arrears evictions and bad tenants which would shift into S8 instead anyway
I believe the government want to stop the flow of bad tenants heading to the council for help by keeping them in PRS by blocking S21, tenants can in effect then play the system and stay in their property

Mandy Thomson

10:07 AM, 26th March 2019, About 5 years ago

We all know that landlords are falling back on section 21 because section 8 is broken - the NLA has a policy of warning members using section 8 that there is no guarantee of an eviction, even when the mandatory ground 8 (for rent arrears) is made out. For grounds other than rent arrears, even mandatory grounds, it's even more difficult and a claimant usually needs a solicitor.

It would be more to the point if the Ministry of Justice or MHCLG were to run a survey for claimants enforcing section 21 where the data (giving the real reason for the claim) is collected on a voluntary basis that ensures the claimant's anonymity and moreover, is not allowed to influence the outcome of the claim.

Yes, the landlord organisations (including Property 118) will have some data but most landlords who turn to such organisations are facing a crisis situation so this might not be representative - having said that, though, repeated English National Housing Surveys report only around 10% of tenancies being ended by the landlord.

In my role as a landlord advisor with a national landlord organisation, I advise landlords to use section 21 where they can, including situations where there are arrears and/or anti social behaviour - in fact, most of landlords evicting have arrears and/or anti social tenants. However, there are a small but significant number who say they're serving s.21 because they've had enough and are finding it increasingly difficult to carry on being a landlord.

Unfortunately, such is the state of the system

Reluctant Landlord

17:04 PM, 2nd April 2019, About 5 years ago

So can I issue a Section 21 without giving a reason, and if that is the case when issues can the tenant actually contest it? I have assumed (perhaps wrongly up till now ) that Section 8 is when there are rent arrears etc, and this is the route I have taken in once case to date. Once the arrears in this case are all sorted, I intend to use a Section 21 as I understand that I don't have to list the reason why (I will have reasons though believe me even if arrears aren't one of them!) .

Luke P

17:07 PM, 2nd April 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jennifer Wallis at 02/04/2019 - 17:04
No reason is required to be listed on a s.21. Pro is the Judge has no freedom (unless you cock the paperwork up) and must grant Possession with up to a 42 day extension. Con is you wait 2 months (as opposed to two weeks with s.8 arrears) and you won’t get a Money Order.

Reluctant Landlord

17:18 PM, 2nd April 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 02/04/2019 - 17:07
Helpful thanks. How can you mess up the paperwork then? I guess on stipulating the dates? So if I fill a Section 21 in today 2nd April, it is two months exactly from this date? I read that I need to allow time for it ti be issued, so sending in the post with a first class next day means it is received 3rd April so two full months from the 3rd then?

Luke P

19:45 PM, 2nd April 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jennifer Wallis at 02/04/2019 - 17:18Depends when the tenancy began. Two months from service (plus a couple of days for posting) is the most recent format. Previously it was two months and to tie in with end of period. Just stick with that to stay safe. Ensure you have (and can prove) service of GSC, EPC & H2R. GSC must have been served *before* tenancy commenced.

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