Understanding the possession action process: A guide for private residential tenants in England and Wales

Mid October saw the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities issue a guidance document on possession action. It states “The Department is responsible for housing law and housing policy in England. This guide has been produced in partnership with the Welsh Government, who are responsible for housing law and housing policy in Wales”

This guide is designed to assist tenants whose landlord or letting agent has served them with a notice requiring possession (Form 6A for the section 21 possession process in England), or a notice seeking possession (Form 3 for the section 8 possession process). This starts the possession action process, through which you may legally be evicted from your home.

This seems a strange document to publish when the government’s plan for the last 3 years has been to abolish section 21 possessions. The last few Prime Ministers, however brief their tenure, have mentioned it, but the changes to the Housing Act seems to be way down the government’s priority at the moment. During Liz Truss’s occupation as Prime Minister, there was a suggestion that the tenancy reforms would not be pursued, but on 17th October 2022, Simon Clark (Secretary of State at Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities) stated – “I can confirm that we will introduce the rental reform Bill in the course of this Parliament.”
This wording suggests it may now not be introduced during the 2022-2023 parliamentary session as previously dictated.

The guide, available only as a HTML page, would run to around 34 pages if you wanted to print it off. It lists the changes to the length of the notice period due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the steps for both landlords and tenants to follow. It talks about the importance of early communication between the landlord and tenant, stressing that mediation of the problem would be mutually beneficial for both parties, especially if the problem relates to money concerns. There is nothing noticeably new in this guidance paper.

24th October 2022 saw a 54 page House of Commons Library document titled – “The end of ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions (England)”. This just seems to be a historical rehash of how the government got to where it is now, including a section on reactions to proposals to abolish section 21, including The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) who argue…………”a reformed and improved court system which has bedded-in, together with improvements to the grounds for possession, should be introduced before section 21 is amended or abolished. Landlord organisations contend there is a risk of landlords leaving the sector, which could reduce access to housing for those who cannot afford to buy and who cannot access social rented housing.”

The full House of Commons Library document can be found at: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8658/CBP-8658.pdf