The proposed abolition of Section 21 will leave landlords ‘virtually powerless’ to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) among tenants in the private rented sector, according to the National Landlords Association.
In Q1 2019, the NLA surveyed more than 40,000 members of its members and found that over the past year, 14% reported having tenants who engaged in anti-social activities – ranging from drug abuse and prostitution to playing loud music.
Currently, landlords faced with disruptive or abusive tenants can issue a ‘no fault’ Section 21 notice that enables them to repossess their property – typically within four months – without having to put neighbours and those affected by ASB through the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
However, with the government unveiling plans to abolish this process, fear has sparked among landlords that they will be unable to evict anti-social tenants.
The NLA says landlords’ only alternative is to issue anti-social tenants with a Section 8 notice, which allows them to repossess their property so long as they provide a valid reason and are able to provide significant evidence to satisfy a court.
Nonetheless, landlords may struggle with this option as anti-social behaviour can be difficult to prove without witness statements, which can be hard or impossible to get. The Section 8 process is also costly, lengthy and can take months to be actioned.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, commented: “Local communities often hold landlords responsible for the anti-social behaviour that take place in their properties. But landlords cannot be blamed if they do not have effective tools to deal with the problem.”
“In cases where the main issue is noise, alcohol or drugs, it can end up as your word against theirs. The reality is that neighbours and other tenants are sometimes just too afraid either to report cases of anti-social behaviour or testify in court.”