Court reforms and extra funding are needed if the government's overhaul of the evictions process is to succeed, warn landlord groups and eviction specialists.
It has promised to abolish section 21 '�no fault' evictions as part of the Renters (Reform) Bill, meaning that all evictions would need to be based on an approved reason given by the landlord through a section 8 notice.
Under the reforms, landlords will only be able to evict tenants in certain circumstances, including when they want to sell the property or when they or a close family member want to move in, after six months. However, after a three-month period they will be free to put the property back on the rental market. The Bill also makes it easier for landlords to repossess their properties in cases of anti-social behaviour or where the tenant repeatedly fails to pay rent.
Property lawyer at JMW, David Smith, explains that there is a huge increase in the number of grounds for possession to deal with a range of needs for social landlords, and to deal with other scenarios where a private landlord would find themselves in breach of the law if they allowed the tenancy to continue. 'The promised new ground for possession for repeated arrears is there, as are the expected changes to ground 14 to allow eviction for behaviour '�capable of causing' a nuisance.'�
However, with an average wait time between a court claim and repossession of nearly 10 months in 2022, according to the Ministry of Justice, more than half of the evictions previously carried out using Section 21 will now be diverted to the courts, adds Smith.
While the government has promised to digitise parts of the court system to reduce delays, there is little detail on how this will work and no funding has been allocated. NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle says staff numbers need to increase in the court system to meet the needs of these reforms while Landlord Action's Paul Shamplina believes greater reform of the court system will be required if landlords are to have confidence to remain in the market.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, tells LandlordZONE: 'Moving to section 8'�means rent arrears won't be tolerated. Government has got the message, but a failure to fund the court system properly will mean a lack of justice for landlords and tenants.'�