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Industry coalition calls for section 21 to be retained

Groups representing landlords and letting agents have called for section 21 repossessions to be retained in the private rented sector unless and until a new system is in place that provides landlords with the same level of confidence about repossessing properties in legitimate circumstances.

Bodies including ARLA Propertymark, Safe Agent, the Residential Landlords Association, the National Landlords Association and Landlord Action have joined together to form a ‘Fair Possessions Coalition’ and unite in warning that plans to abolish section 21 repossessions without a new system in place would undermine investment in the sector. Even more so, this would be done at a time when private landlords are relied upon on to provide homes for one in five households in England.

The Coalition said in a statement that, whilst landlords much prefer to have good tenants staying long-term in their properties, they also require certainty that in legitimate circumstances - such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour - they can swiftly and easily repossess their properties in much the same way social landlords and mortgage lenders can.

It’s been argued that the current ‘Section 8’ process, which would be the main replacement for section 21 and under which landlords can repossess properties based on a number of grounds, is not fit for purpose and does not provide the level of certainty currently offered by section 21.

The Coalition says the current judicial process for dealing with possession cases is confusing for tenants and takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening.

As such, rather than tinkering with the existing system, the Coalition urges a complete overhaul of the regulations and processes enabling landlords to repossess their properties. This new system, it argued, should outline clear grounds for repossession that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants.

It also said that the establishment of a new, dedicated, fully funded housing court should be directly linked to the reform, making better use of mediation by taking into account models in use abroad. These courts should also happen in local venues such as schools and community centres, making ‘the process less intimidating and easier for landlords and tenants to obtain the swift and accessible justice they need if the relationship is to work effectively’.

The Coalition belive that such reforms must form part of a wider package of measures, including welfare reforms to better support vulnerable tenants to sustain tenancies, as well as smart taxation to encourage the development of the new homes for private rent that the country requires.

In full, the Fair Possessions Coalition consists of: ARLA Propertymark; Cornwall Residential Landlords Association; Country Land and Business Association; East Midlands Property Owners; Eastern Landlords Association; Guild of Residential Landlords; Humber Landlords Association; iHowz; Landlord Action; Leeds Property Association; National Landlords Alliance; National Landlords Association; North West Landlords Association; Portsmouth and District Private Landlords' Association; Residential Landlords Association; Safe Agent; South West Landlords Association; and Theresa Wallace (Chair, The Lettings Industry Council).

A fully copy of the statement sent to the government can be seen here.

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    s. 21 should be retained with added enhancements e.g. an accelerated immediate repossession for antisocial behaviour without requiring a criminal charge, no exceptions grounds, LL ability to use s.21 even if councils are involved, rent unpaid = immediate eviction by Bailiffs without a court hearing.

    s.8 is certainly not fit for purpose. We are waiting to evict our Lodger (an excluded occupier) after 9 months, loss of income, legal costs and stress, thanks to Hounslow council and a useless Courts/legal system.

    S.8 non payment of rent should be revised as well to an accelerated eviction order without a hearing if the rent is unpaid for 1 month.

    Current laws including s.21 & s.8 already unfairly weighed in favour of a Lodger/Tenant. Councils should be penalised, named and shamed & Landlord compensated for council harassment by the judges when clearly seemed to be supporting rogue unscrupulous lodgers (or tenant’s).

    Hounslow council decided to define a lodger licence as AST.
    This took 8 months, £000’s in legal costs, LL’s lost income as she had to stay at home to ensure that the Lodger didn’t damage the property further or gave access to strangers to break into LL rooms in her absence and then the Council asked for a further Bailiffs order so the lodger is still in the property 9 months later!
    Along side s.8 & s.21 revisions, unscrupulous Councils like Hounslow should be disempowered and not allowed to harass landlords.

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