Although landlord possession claims and Section 21 evictions October to December 2015 were 36,601, a figure which is down 4% from the same quarter in 2014, the annual figures are up slightly, and in total are a record high.
The profile of the types of landlord possession claims (e.g. social landlord, private landlord and accelerated claims) has changed over time. In October to December 2015, most landlord possession claims (62%) were social landlord (council and housing association) claims, though this proportion has fallen from 83% in 1999 to 62% in 2015. However, a quarter of claims made in October to December 2015 (25%) were accelerated possession claims, a proportion which has risen from 7% in 1999 to 25% in Q4 2015.
Of the claims made in Q4 2015 28,476 orders for possession were successful, down 6% on the same quarter last year. This means that approximately 20% (one in five) s21 AP claims fail. As the S21 is a mandatory possession claim process, the failures can only be down to mistakes and technical errors in the claim. Failing to protect the deposit and produce the necessary documentation is now a common reason for s21 failure.
Warrants of possession remained stable at 18,644 – a decrease of less than 1% on the same quarter last year. This means that approxiamately 50% of tenants failed to move out when a possession order had been issued by a judge, obliging the landlord to pay another court fee for the issue of a warrant. Currently the fee for a s21 AP claim is £280 and the application for a warrant for possession is £110.
Of the instances were a warrant for possession was issued, approximately half of those needed a bailiff to physically evict – 9,775, a figure which is down 6% on the same quarter in 2014.
Seasonally adjusted data for the quarter shows a 2% decrease in claims and orders, a 1% decrease in warrants and a 6% decrease in repossessions by county court bailiffs compared to the last quarter.
The annual total of claims issued in 2015 at 153,694 was actually down 7% on the previous year. The numbers of orders and warrants also declined by 7% and 1% respectively. However, there were 42,728 repossessions by county court bailiffs in 2015, an increase of 2% compared to 2014, and the highest annual figure in the series, which covers the period from 2000.
Given the number of people now renting, the slight increase, although the highest yet recorded, is perhaps not so surprising.
Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action, specialists in landlord possession services, says the rise in Section 21 evictions is an insight into the severity of the UK’s housing shortage, and a reflection of the impact increased legislation is having on the private rented sector.
Mr Shamplina says:
“Rising rents and welfare cuts are undoubtedly to blame for the growing number of evictions. With a shortage of affordable properties, particularly in the capital, the imbalance of supply and demand has pushed rental inflation well beyond the levels at which tenants’ wages have risen. Many simply can’t keep pace and are falling into arrears. We’re seeing more subletting scams and cases of tenants renting out properties on holiday websites in order to cover their rent than ever before.”
According to MoJ, the proportion of claims made using accelerated procedure has increased from 7% in 1999 to 25% in 2015. There are several reasons for this according to Mr Shamplina:
“Rising house prices, uncertainty over future buy-to-let tax implications and concerns over increased legislation (such as Right to rent and Deregulation Act) have been the catalysts for many self-managing landlords to consider selling up. They use Section 21 as a way to gain possession of their property as quickly as possible.”
In other circumstances, where tenants are in arrears, Landlord Action says many landlords still opt to use a section 21, instead of Section 8. Some landlords feel they won’t be able to collect rent arrears so this allows them automatic right of possession without having to give any grounds (reasons) once the fixed term has expired. Other landlords are being forced down the Section 21 route because local councils are advising tenants to remain in properties until a possession order has been granted by the courts. This means they can apply for re-housing and do not make themselves “voluntarily” homeless.
“A section 21 usually enables landlords to gain possession much quicker on a no-fault basis, so they can re-let the property, which is often more financially viable than chasing arrears. I believe use of the
Section 21 process for landlords will continue to grow year-on-year because of councils’ pushing the problem back onto private rental sector landlords” says Paul Shamplina.
Section 21 Evictions hit record high – https://t.co/ZbL3KtRInC
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) February 17, 2016