Insights and Opinions Alexandra Williams 01/04/2021

Renters' Reform Bill Spotlight: Possession grounds and grounds for selling

What are the new proposed possession grounds? How can I gain possession if I want to sell my property? What happens if the property doesn’t sell? These are just some of the questions coming in from members, following the publication of our Renters' Reform Bill proposals. Here campaigns officer Alexandra Williams takes a deep dive into the issues surrounding conciliation and court reform and how the NRLA believes our proposals could operate to benefit landlords and tenants. 

We haven’t seen the Renters’ Reform Bill from the government and do not have a clear timeline for when the Bill will be published. But we do know the Government is committed to abolishing Section 21 repossessions - so-called ‘no fault’ evictions, and reforming grounds for possession. 

The NRLA released our proposals for the bill in December, calling for clear and comprehensive grounds for possession, court reform and a lifetime deposit system which is fair to both landlords and tenants. We proposed several reforms to mandatory and discretionary grounds for possession. One of these grounds which has been a hot topic with our members is the new proposed mandatory ground for selling a property. 

What is the government's plans for possession? 

The government has committed to reforming current legislation, which we know will involve abolishing Section 21, also known as ‘no fault’ evictions. They have also stated they will give landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the courts where there is a legitimate need for them to do so. However, until the Renters’ Reform Bill is published, we can’t be sure exactly what this will look like. 

What are the NRLA proposed possession grounds? 

The NRLA believes landlords need to be assured they are able regain possession of their properties under these new proposals. We are calling for clear and comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately regain possession of a property. These include where the landlord needs to make business decisions such as selling the property, moving in, or making substantial changes, or when there has been a breach of tenancy. 

How would I gain possession if I want to sell my property? 

Currently, landlords are only able to regain possession if they intend to sell their property by using Section 21. With Section 21 being removed as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, we have proposed a new mandatory ground for possession for landlords intending to sell. 

To avoid excessive bureaucracy, and show genuine intent to sell, we propose that the evidence for this ground would require either confirmation that the landlord has instructed a solicitor as part of the conveyancing process, or a statutory declaration from their solicitor that the landlord intends to sell.  

What happens if the property doesn’t sell? 

Our proposals are aimed at showing genuine intent from landlords to sell, preventing misuse of this ground to end a tenancy for other reasons. This would mean that failure to sell in itself wouldn’t mean the ground can be challenged. 

It’s likely that there will be a lot of debate around this ground as the Bill is brought forward, because the process for sale in England is such that, until contracts are exchanged, there is no legal commitment. However, the government has previously set out its intentions to include a sale ground, and we will be continuing to campaign for a ground that works for landlords, while preventing abuse of the system. 

It's important to emphasise this is an NRLA proposal, and if the government chose to incorporate it into their Bill it may be different to our proposal. 

More information 

If you would like to engage with us further on our proposals, the regional webinars with the policy team on the Renters’ Reform Bill continue next month and you can share your feedback on our proposals via our campaign page. 

Keep an eye out for more articles spotlighting different parts of the Renters’ Reform Bill and the NRLA proposals over the coming months. 

Alexandra Williams

Alexandra Williams Campaigns Officer

Alexandra joined the NRLA in 2020, having completed her Masters' and with political campaigns experience. Alexandra project manages NRLA campaigns, coordinates campaign content and works with stakeholders across the housing sector. She is also responsible for creating and updating the major campaign pages on the NRLA website.

See all articles by Alexandra Williams