The National Landlords Association (NLA) is calling for the Government to review the section 8 possession process as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government announces their call for evidence to consider the case for a Housing Court.
The section 8 possession process requires landlords to seek a court order to gain possession of their property where the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. However, tenants can challenge the possession claim and remain in the property.
For the successful possession claims, there is an average period of 18 weeks between claims and repossessions¹, which can cost up to £355 per claim² in court fees alone. The landlord also has to cover legal costs and may face losses when tenants are in arrears and stop paying rent. The NLA’s latest survey of landlords shows that it can take an average of 145 days to regain possession of a property at a cost of £5,730³.
Rent arrears is the most common reason for a landlord to file a section 8 possession claim. The NLA’s landlords panel found that 36 percent of landlords experienced rent arrears and 15 percent have sought to regain possession in the last year³.
The alternative to section 8 is section 21, where no reason is needed and gives tenants two months’ notice. However, this can only be used after a fixed-term tenancy ends or during a periodic tenancy. Landlords often serve both notices simultaneously as it provides greater certainty of vacant possession. This can be vital when a landlord needs to sell the property or move in themselves.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, says:
“As it stands, the system is failing and needs urgent reform. Landlords are forced to rely on section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, even when there is a breach in tenancy. This is essentially a sticking plaster covering the fundamental issue – that the section 8 process is no longer fit for purpose.
“While the majority of tenancies are ended by the tenant, landlords need to be confident they can regain possession of their properties efficiently in the event of a breach of tenancy to effectively manage their business risk.”
The NLA has created a video outlining the issues with section 8 and asking landlords to share their experiences with the process. This can be viewed at landlords.org.uk.
¹ Ministry of Justice Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics in England and Wales, April to June 2018
² Ministry of Justice Civil and Family Court Fees (from February 2018)
³ NLA Landlord Panel Survey Q3 2018 (690 respondents)