Main organisation representing lawyers in the UK says plans will increase tenant security but makes no mention of likely backlogs it will create within court system.
The Law Society has backed the government’s controversial plans to significantly reform evictions laws in England.
Despite howls of protest from landlords and many industry organisations pointing out that banning Section 21 notice evictions will lead to huge backlogs as more evictions are pushed into the court system, The Law Society has said the proposals will ‘improve security of tenure’.
The announcement of its response to the government’s A New Deal for Renting consultation on ending assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) and revoking section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
The Law Society’s views echo many of the government’s arguments for abolishing ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions.
“Section 21 is one of the leading causes of family homelessness in the UK,” says Simon Davis, president of the Law Society.
“In addition, because of the absence of legal aid support, many are unable to obtain the legal advice they need to enforce their rights.
“This creates an inequity of power between landlords and tenants. The rule of law should be available equally to both sides.”
But Paul Shamplina of evictions specialist Landlord Action, says although increased tenant security is to be welcomed, the reforms must be backed up by additional funding for the court system.
“It’s very important that tenants have more security in their tenancies, and clearly when section 21 is abolished, there will be major amendments to a Section 8 notice, with extra grounds added to the current 17, which are out of date in my opinion.
“But we have still not heard anything from the Ministry of Justice that there will be extra resource put in the court system.
This must include employing more judges, bailiffs and more online tools to assist landlords and tenants, along with a new mediation service, to prevent cases going to hearing/eviction stage.
“Without extra resource to deal with all these extra hearings from the switch of Section 21, it falls down.
“We still see horrendous delays on cases at present at Landlord Action.
“I’ve said it once and I will say it again, if landlords feel they cannot obtain possession within a reasonable time period, they will have no confidence in new ‘Housing Court’ and you will see landlords exit the market, which will result in more homelessness and reduced stock in the PRS.
“It needs to be joined up and not rushed.”