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.