The following question relates to English housing law.

Following on from the news today that the government plans to abolish section 21 evictions I was wondering how this affects my current circumstances.

For the last 4 years I have lived in a property which I rent. My financial dealings are with a letting agent who act on behalf of the landlord.

When we moved in initially we were required to sign a 12 month contract. Before the end of the 12 month contract we were served a section 21 and told that if we wanted to stay we would need to sign another 12 month contract rather than allowing the existing tenancy to roll on. This has continued since I've lived here.

I imagine the main motivation behind this practice is two fold:

  • It guarantees the property is filled for another year
  • It allows the letting agency to charge extortionate signing fees every year.

Will this change in law effectively mean that my letting agent/landlord can no longer do this, i.e. I can actually move onto a 'rolling' contract at the end of the 12 month period and therefore also cannot be charged another signing fee?

In the addition to the above how long do acts like this take to pass through law? My contract is up in July this year (2019). What are the chances it will come into force before then?

  • If you go month-to-month, it looks like they could raise your rent more often than yearly.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:58
  • I'd be interested in the legality of those Section 21 notices you were served as a method of forcing you to sign another Assured Short Term Tenancy Agreement - that sounds already illegal or unconscionable and should be looked at imho.
    – user4210
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:40
  • @moo Yes I agree, it's become more of a concern recently however as I'm thinking about buying a house and being tied to an existing tenancy contract would potentially mean I am forced to pay the rent in addition to mortgage repayments. While it's unconscionable I imagine it's perfectly legal.
    – Suipaste
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 10:57

1 Answer 1


It seems highly unlikely this will benefit you any time soon, for two reasons:

  1. The government have announced a consultation on their proposal, which at the time of writing has not yet started. Consultations typically run for a few weeks or months; then the government has to consider the results (which can take many months); then if the government decides to go ahead with their proposal, it has to go through the legislative process, which is likely to take many more months (even with the support of the opposition, which is likely in this case).

  2. Even if all of the above things happen, changes of this sort typically don't come into force until a year or two until after the proposals become law, and they normally don't apply to existing tenancies (at least, not immediately), only new ones.

The only good news for you is that the Tenant Fees Act comes into force on 1 June 2019, which drastically reduces the fees that lettings agents are able to charge tenants.

Incidentally, as far as I'm aware, the practice of serving a section 21 at the end of every fixed term is legal. I believe the intention is to force the tenant to commit to staying or going, as at present, a tenant is not required to inform the landlord if they (the tenant) intends to stay or leave at the end of a fixed term - though in practise, the tenant will be asked about their intentions.

  • Interesting about the Tenant Fees Act, I'll have to have a look at my existing contract and see if anything in there currently overrides what will come into force from June.
    – Suipaste
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:26

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