House of Commons unveils Section 21 paper

The House of Commons Library has unveiled a research paper detailing the arguments for and against abolishing Section 21 Evictions.

According to the Commons a primary issue with Section 21 is tenants are disempowered from securing repairs or challenging rent increases because landlords can evict them in retaliation.

Under the heading ‘What’s the problem with section 21 of the Housing Act
1988?’, the paper says ‘Private tenants, their representative bodies, and others working in the sector argue the ability of landlords to terminate an AST at short notice has a detrimental effect on tenants’ wellbeing.’

The paper notes that landlord bodies oppose the scrapping of Section 21 and there is a clear divide with tenant organisations.

As stated, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) argues that a reformed and improved court system, along with improvements to the Grounds for possession, should be introduced before section 21 is amended or abolished.

The paper noted that there is a concern landlords could evict tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancy contracts who are in rent arrears before the Renters’ Reform Bill goes through. As a result there are suggestions a government-backed loan for landlords could be introduced, while there could be a moratorium on Section 21 until the bill goes through parliament.

As detailed in the paper, the Residential Landlords Association (now the NRLA), identified why landlords prefer to use ‘no-fault’ Section 21 evictions compared to Section 8:

• Rent arrears – A Section 8 notice can be sought when a tenant reaches 2 months of rent arrears. If the tenant has paid the arrears off by the time the case goes to court the application by the landlord becomes invalid and can often be followed by the tenant again building arrears and again paying them off at the last minute.

• Anti-Social Behaviour – To obtain a Section 8 notice in the face of a tenant committing antisocial behaviour the bar for securing the necessary evidence to prove this is relatively high. In itself it can be a long and difficult process, resulting in neighbours suffering as a result of a problem tenant.

• Section 8 notices usually involve the case going to court. The MOJ has revealed that the average time taken for a landlord to repossess a property through the courts was 22 weeks in 2017. In London the figure was 25 weeks. Being left in legal limbo for such a long period of time is not helpful for either the tenant or the landlord.

• Court hearings – Unlike the Section 21 process which can be carried out largely on paper, a Section 8 notice possession case always requires a hearing. Landlords find this intimidating and incur greater costs due to court representation.

Comments 1

  1. The abolition of S21 will lose more properties from the market than the relatively small problem that existed – This is “like fools gold” This is and will continue to drive landlords to invest elsewhere and adversely affect the availablitily of rental property and is overall stupid. There is alread a significant degree of protection from retalitory evictions. Would I believe the research paper – well no – I don’t believe anything much nowadays as things are biased based on what those instructing want to be the result! The same way no one trusts MP’s anymore as they continue to disgrace themselves regularly.
    The only way to deal with things you don’t agree with is actively change what you do. The ongoing nonesense of trying to introduce rent control will further deplete rental stock. Best form of rent control is to flood the market with rental property – not that Government will be able to do that. However they may find themselves having to provide housing rather than promise; this as landlords leave the rental market and more foreign labour/immigrants will need housing. Much of this is about politicians buying votes to get power or stay in power.

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