Section 21:

Following his landslide victory in the General Election the National Landlords’ Association is urging Boris Johnson and his strengthened Tory government to protect landlords’ rights of repossession when it comes to the planned legal changes to Section 21.

Having averted even more radical changes to buy-to-let from a defeated Labour, with their threats of rent controls and more, landlords are still fearful of the threats to their investments from a no-holds-barred removal of the shorhold tenancy, in force since 1980, and the no-fault eviction process known as Section 21.

Landlords fear that under present government plans, the current system which has given them confidence they can get their property back when things go wrong, their Section 21 protection would be replaced by what they see as a totally inadequate system (Section 8).

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The NLA says, “the Conservative government must start a new housing court and reform Section 8 “fault-based” evictions to end the logjam of repossession cases that will follow the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions”

Having promised to strengthen landlords’ rights of possession, the NLA calls on the new Boris Johnson-led Conservative government to take urgent action to deliver by reforming the law courts, which it says would otherwise lead to a full blown crisis in the private rented sector.

There is already evidence that some landlords are selling-up in the face of these threats, and given the demand for rental accommodation in the country at present, any reduction in supply would inevitably lead to hardship for tenants.

A recent NLA-commissioned study carried out for them by the international consultancy, Capital Economics, concluded that if the government’s planned abolition of Section 21 is carried through without additional safeguards, then the supply of private rented houses in England would fall by 20 percent (960,000 dwellings).

In addition, there would be a 59 percent reduction in the number of private rented dwellings available to households which claim local housing allowance or universal credit (770,000 fewer dwellings) because landlords would choose not to rent their property to people with an unreliable record on paying their rent

Also, the number of homes facing rental increases would amount to 600,000 homes (13 percent of the sector) because the reduced supply of rented housing would force up rental costs.

The Conservative Party had already committed in its election manifesto to go ahead with plans to abolish Section 21 if it were elected, but it also pledged to at the same time “strengthen” landlords’ rights of possession. However, landlords are fearful that relying on the existing under-resourced and overworked court system, and a few tweeks to the Section 8 grounds for possession, would not be enough to re-assure landlords and prevent a new crisis in housing.

Richard Lambert, the NLA’s chief executive, said:

“We congratulate Boris Johnson on his return to No. 10 Downing Street as prime minister of a new Conservative government. We now stand ready to work with him and his team on the reform of housing regulations in a way that does not do long term damage to the supply of private rented housing.

“No-one should be in any doubt about the dire consequences for the supply of private rented housing in this country if the government abolishes Section 21 without any effort to reform the law courts and strengthen landlords’ rights of possession. There would be nearly 1 million fewer houses available for rent and the people who would be hardest hit would be some of the most vulnerable in our society: those in receipt of state benefits.”

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