With the confirmation that the no-fault Section 21 process is to be abolished, in the December Queen’s Speech, comes the realisation that landlords and letting agents will need to prepare for a new regime.
Details are sketchy at the moment but a good deal of information, and the general direction of travel, can be gleaned from the government’s guide, “A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants”
PayProp, the company that handles automated transactions and reconciliation for landlords and agents on its web platform, is advising landlords and letting agents to think now about updating their documentation and procedures prior to the introduction of the new system.
Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp
“…agents (and landlords) need to think about the ways they can help to reduce the frequency of evictions. Encouraging good relationships between landlords and tenants is all-important, as is staying on top of repairs and facilitating good communication between both parties.”
“Rent arrears are one of the most common reasons for evictions, so agents can help landlords to keep them to a minimum by sending automated emails and text messages – which are proven to be more effective when it comes to chasing rent payments. Using technology and automation will be crucial for agents to stay on top of constantly changing industry regulation and legislation,” thinks Mr. Cobbold.
Whilst its too early to develop detailed paperwork, agreements and notices incorporating the new regime, it’s not too early to start to put procedures in place which are robust enough to deal with situations that as a last resort may develop into a pressing need to evict.
In future, all evictions, and most of these involve rent arrears, will revolve around having good evidence to convince a court that the situation may not be resolvable in any other way. Either serious rent arrears – and these should never be allowed to become too serious – or persistent delays in paying rent, will have to be adequately evidenced if they are to succeed.
The other two major reasons why an eviction may, unfortunately, have to be resorted to, include damage to the premises, or anti-social behaviour.
In the case of the former, a regular inspection regime is important, following on from a good independent inventory taken at the commencement of the tenancy. Where a damage claim is likely, a follow-up end-of-tenancy check-out inventory is a must.
Where anti social behaviour is concerned, and indeed with any form of dealing with tenants, the landlord or agent should keep a detailed diary of events, recoding everything that is said, and copies of all communications. Verbal communications should always be followed up in writing, and should be readily available in the tenancy file.
The courts are interested in one thing and one thing only: facts. Hearsay and opinions will get you nowhere, so all evidence presented must be in some form of documentation, whether this be letters, emails, contemporaneous diary entries, police reports, witness statements, inspection reports, photographs and full inventories.
With the prospect of having to prove given tenant behaviours against what is said will be a revised set of grounds for possession, landlords and agents should be getting ready now with their new and existing tenancies.
Forewarned is forearmed, so being prepared for the worst, in the unlikely event it may happen – by far most tenancies end normally with the tenant giving notice – means that you are protecting your investment even though the convenience of Section 21 has been taken away.