What The Demise of Section 21 Eviction Notices May Mean For Landlords23rd May 2022
Section 21 Notices To End Under New Renters Reform Bill
The government has trumpeted the death knell for Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices in a press release headlined “…New Deal For Renters”.
The Renters Reform Bill would remove Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions – denying landlords a useful means of evicting tenants.
Why The Government Wants To End Section 21 Evictions
HM Government aims to give tenants greater protection from what it describes as “unscrupulous landlords”. And to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants “wilfully not paying rent” or “repeatedly engaging in anti-social behaviour, bringing down neighbourhoods”.
This latest announcement from Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is not altogether unexpected – but it is causing very real concern.
Legitimate landlords fear the new Bill would make evictions even more difficult. They point to existing laws which already protect tenants and provide financial remedies if a rented property becomes sub-standard.
There is also the worry that the new Bill would backfire on tenants by reducing property stock (pushing up rents).
And with the cost of living already spiralling upwards and looking to surpass predictions, this might cause a rush to evict so that landlords can crystallise their investments.
What Will Life After Section 21 Look Like?
Many landlords will no doubt be horrified by the impending demise of Section 21 evictions. How do you gain possession of your property for a legitimate reason? (Such as wanting to live there yourself or sell it as a vacant property.)
It’s the kind of reform that dissuades risk-averse amateur/accidental landlords from renting out their properties. Experienced professional landlords are not impressed either.
Here were the early reactions from some landlords:
- “It’s all so tragic, many tenants will rejoice at all this, they have no idea what it will do to the stock levels (ie, lower them) and how that will negatively affect them. Lambs to the slaughter.”
- “Airbnb here I come...along with a portfolio of 150 properties.”
Though one landlord observed more sanguinely: “The reality is that the removal of Section 21 actually won’t change much.
“Tenants end over 90% of tenancies – this won’t change. With Section 8 grounds being strengthened (for landlords), these will be better/easier to enforce. The right to occupy and sell will almost certainly be protected/enshrined within the new regs as well, as the right for banks to repossess (with caveats to avoid abuse).”
The government has promised a White Paper to thrash out these issues. But based on experience, don’t expect that to be soon. Headline-grabbing announcements are one thing…delivering on promises without upsetting the apple cart are quite another.
Meanwhile, the court system already cannot cope with the number of cases that require hearings. Possessions via Section 8 can now take many months to be dealt with. So landlords look set for more challenges…even before the government cuts many more employees from its payroll.
Eviction Pitfalls Remain – Despite Easing Of The Pandemic Rules
Beyond the ominous Renters Reform Bill, Covid19 continues to cast its shadow over landlords. Many still find it difficult to evict tenants – even though the rules have now eased.
Landlords and their agents have had to contend with a frustrating welter of regulations during the pandemic, making it harder to regain possession of their properties.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Evicting tenants is much easier than you think – despite all the extra rules.
Get The Eviction Paperwork Right
My experience of dealing with these matters is that – provided you do what is required as a landlord – the processes needed to obtain possession of your property are relatively straightforward.
If you do everything correctly before issuing Section 21 or Section 8 notices, you will gain possession of your property. And if you issue a Section 8 claim for rent arrears correctly, you can also expect to obtain an order for payment of the debt – as well as costs on the claim.
However, it is unfortunate that many landlords (including experienced professional ones and/or their agents) often make simple mistakes. Paperwork errors can prevent an order for possession or result in unnecessary delays or additional costs.
But you can avoid these errors quite easily. Prevention is often much less costly than the cure. So why risk failure when the cost of prevention is minimal compared with the cost of cure?
How One Landlord Got It Wrong
Recently I was called on to help a landlord after their possession claim went awry.
The landlord had issued a Section 8 claim seeking possession, arrears and costs. It should have been straightforward.
But an oversight by the landlord (or perhaps their advisers) meant the tenant might have been able to defeat the claim for possession due to a technicality.
In this instance – somewhat unusually – the tenant was happy to vacate the property as it suited their circumstances. However, the technicality meant the landlord was dissuaded from seeking to recover thousands of pounds of rent arrears and associated costs.
The landlord’s reticence stemmed from the fact that they didn’t want to delay gaining possession any longer. Had the tenant sought to contest possession, it might have resulted in no order for possession and the landlord having to start proceedings all over again.
And yet, this technicality would have been so easy for the landlord to avoid. Had they dealt with the matter correctly before seeking to gain possession, they would almost certainly have obtained an order for possession, rent arrears and costs.
It was an expensive lesson for the landlord – and an unexpected windfall for the tenant.
Landlords And Tenants Need Each Other
There is a shortage of available properties in which to rehome people. So landlords perform a valuable service to many tenants. Together they enjoy a mutually beneficial arrangement.
No-one wants to see anyone made homeless. But evictions become necessary if the tenant fails to pay the rent or if they break the rules.
So if tenants abide by the terms of their tenancy, there would be no reason to seek possession. (Unless a landlord’s circumstances changed and they needed their property to be returned.)
And remember…if a landlord were unscrupulous and the property were in a poor condition, the landlord may be prevented from evicting the tenant(s).
Get Expert Legal Advice On Evicting Tenants
It is vitally important to get specialist legal advice before:
- renting out property
- embarking on eviction proceedings.
Both have potential pitfalls – reducing any profit or, worse still, leaving you out of pocket.
Coles Miller’s landlord and tenant team is led by Debt Recovery Manager Eric Holt. Contact him at our Parkstone Road, Poole office for expert legal advice on evictions, recovery of rent arrears and other assured shorthold tenancy matters.