Evictions:

Over half of landlords use the Section 21 no-fault eviction process because of rent arrears, and they use this route in preference to Section 8 because of the uncertain result and the inordinate length of time it takes to process a Section 8 claim.

A government consultation about which major reforms to make to private sector tenancies, including the case for a Housing Court, longer tenancies and the future of Section 21, has now ended and the industry awaits the result. 

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Critics are calling for Section 21 evictions to be banned, arguing that they tilt the balance of power towards landlords. However, a survey carried out by Landlord Action, has revealed some interesting facts when it comes to the reasons landlords serve Section 21 notices, suggesting without them landlords may leave the sector for fear they have no power over their own property.

Of the landlords who responded to the survey, 73% said they have had to serve a Section 21 notice, with more than half (56%) using it because their tenant was in rent arrears.  According to the data collected, there were no other common specified reasons for landlords to use it, with 22% of landlords simply selecting ‘other’.

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, believes many of these ‘unspecified’ reasons, along with rent arrears, could be pursued under Section 8 but landlords are forced to rely on Section 21, even when there is a breach of tenancy, because they have very little faith in the court system.

“Not only is using Section 8 already more time-consuming, tenants can delay the process further for landlords by counter-claiming.

“In addition, discretionary grounds of Section 8, such as anti-social behaviour, can be extremely difficult for landlords to prove, meaning it has a lower success rate. It’s clear from the survey that landlords need to be able to get their properties back as soon as possible and are willing to forfeit arrears by using Section 21,” says  Mr Shamplina.

Other specified reasons for using a Section 21 included tenants requesting their landlord to obtain a possession order (10%), landlords needing to refurbish the property (5%) or sell it (4.5%). Just 2% wanted to move back in themselves and only 0.6% said it was because the tenant had complained about disrepair i.e. ‘Retaliation Eviction’.

Interestingly, 43% of landlords said their tenants vacated the property when served with a Section 21 notice, but 42% had to go to court to obtain possession.  The Government has put forward a consultation on a proposed introduction of a specialist “Housing Court”. 

It believes this will provide greater access to justice for both landlords and tenants and give landlords confidence to offer longer, more secure tenancies by making it easier for responsible landlords to regain possession of their tenancy, should they need to. 

However, as part of this, Mr Shamplina predicts that the use of Section 21 is going to be heavily diluted and is concerned that without major reform to the Section 8 process, some landlords will exit the market. 

“Section 21 gives landlords and mortgage providers the reassurance and flexibility to recover their asset if they need to. To abolish it, or even dilute its current use as has been suggested, will require significant reform to Section 8 which offers reassurance to landlords that if they had to use the Section 8 route under grounds for rent arrears, moving back into the property or selling it, there would not be significant delays in the court process.  With this, we are likely to see a further cut to supply of rental properties as landlords will consider buy-to-let too great a risk,” says Mr Shamplina.

In addition, the recent announcement that the Tenants Fees Ban will come into force from 1st June this year will also affect the use of Section 21.  After this date, if a landlord (or letting agent) makes a charge that relates to a banned fee, they must return this within 28 days, or it will render a Section 21 ineffective.

Landlord Action is a UK based organisation helping landlords, letting agents and other property professionals. As a champion for landlords, it has campaigned extensively and was instrumental in getting the law changed to make squatting a criminal offence.

It was founded in 1999 as the first ever fixed-fee tenant eviction specialist, they revolutionised this area of legal practice. They have now acted in more than 35,000 problem tenant cases and are considered the authority in this field.

www.LandlordAction.co.uk  

©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.

6 COMMENTS

  1. With rent arrears I’d serve both section 8 and section 21 notices at the same time, purely because of how long it takes with section 8 notices and you don’t have to give any grounds with section 21. Landlords have to be able to rely on section 21, what is they simply decide to sell the property and the tenants are up to date with rent? Those changes are not going the right way.

    • I often wondered how serving Section 8 and Section 21 works, Isn’t there a point where you have to choose one or the other?, I would appreciate a reply.

  2. From my experience as a landlord, the S21 and possession orders I have served is directly due to the local councils telling the tenant to stay put until evicted. Indeed one of my tenants deliberately took up the tenancy and then caused me hell so I would evict and make them homeless, thus being able to claim council refuge, with the prospect of a council property.

  3. If they get rid of section 21 I will exit the market. They will make it harder and harder for landlords to get rid of bad tenants and it will not be worth the hassle.

  4. It’s no surprise landlords have to deal with rental arrears on a regular basis. The survey carried out by landlord action was very surprising and to suggest landlords may leave the sector for fear they have no power over their own property is a little frightening. Thanks for the information.

  5. S21 is the only reason I bothered becoming a LL.
    Just having the S8 process would have been insufficient for me to invest.
    Unless I have total control over my property assets I won’t bother being a LL.
    S21 is far from a perfect process.
    Even though inadequate it does at least facilitate the LL being able to recover his property………………….eventually!!
    S21 is also a major reason that lenders offered BTL mortgages.
    Without it many lenders would be somewhat reticent to offer mortgages.
    LL simply will sell up.
    Just like a savings account the capital can be withdrawn.
    The same goes for a property asset.
    The LL must always be able to pull out the capital by selling a property.
    S21 also allows to take risk on a tenant.
    If the S21 was allowed to used and enforced by police at the ebd of 2 months notice many more LL would be prepared to take on the riskier tenants.
    It is the requirement that S21 needs to be enforced by Court that is problematic.
    I would suggest that apart from rent arrears the S21 process remains as it is.
    Should rent arrears occur and not be paid at the expiration of 2 months notice then police should be able to be used to remove rent defaulting tenants.
    But irrespective of anything private LL must always be able to recover their property if they want it back.
    If anything is done to prevent an easy recovery by the LL of his property then it is likely the LL will sell up.
    Just because people use a rental property as their home is no reason to deny a LL ready possession of his property whenever required.

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