Ministry of Justice data shows that there are approximately 21,000 landlords who have permission from the courts to evict tenants after serving Section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, but who are now stuck in limbo due to Covid.
These landlords, who have been ‘forgotten’ during the multiple extensions to the eviction ban over the past year since the pandemic started, are unable to sell properties, move back onto them or evict extreme rental arrears tenants until bailiff evictions are given the green light again.
The earliest that is likely to happen will the 31st May when the current ban ends, meaning many landlords will have been waiting 14 months or more since serving Section 21 notices either before the first evictions ban in March last year.
But while attention has been focussed on rent arrears and the financial problems it is causing for both tenants and their landlords, these 20,000 or so landlords are stuck.
Tim Frome of Landlord Action estimates that 25% of his firm’s current claims were initiated through Section 21 notices.
The problem with the government’s evictions ban is that it ‘blanket’ ban on all Section 21 evictions, even when a landlord may have a pressing financial need to repossess a property, and the tenant is not in financial distress.
We talked to one landlord, who wishes to remain anonymous after threats from the tenant involved, who served a Section 21 notice after he stopped paying rent in October 2018 and is still waiting for him to leave nearly 30 months later.
After it became clear that the tenant was intent on using every legal trick in the book to evade paying rent including refusing property inspections or maintenance requests, she issued a Section 21 ‘no fault’ notice and was granted a possession order in November 2019, with a bailiff date set for mid-April 2020.
Just before that date the government introduced its evictions ban, which has been in place ever since and is now set to finish at the end of May. This leaves the landlord’s case in limbo and the tenancy £30,000 in rent arrears plus costs and counting.
“The irony is that he’s not even living there and is illegally sub-letting the property so it’s not like we’re making him homeless,” she says.
“We’re not greedy landlords – we’re reasonable about tenants who are in financial distress and who we are happy to help out, but at the moment the law protects tenants intent on ripping us off too as well as the vulnerable.”