Section 21 evictions are being reviewed by the government, with a view to removing them from English and Welsh Law. James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary commented that Section 21 evictions were one of the biggest causes of homelessness for families.
As it stands, tenants can be given notice to vacate a rental property by being issued with a section 21 notice requiring them to leave within eight weeks. As a landlord you do not have to give a reason for issuing a section 21 notice.
What if a landlord wants to sell up or move into their property?
The proposals include revisions to section 8 which will include the ability for landlords to use Section 8 if they wish to either sell the property or move into it themselves.
Section 8 and court delays
Due to lengthy court delays landlords have been reluctant to go down the section 8 route which requires evidence and can be challenged by a tenant, so the default for most landlords is to go down the section 21 route. If a landlord uses the Section 21 eviction procedure the tenant cannot defend this, and they will be ordered to leave.
Although tenants should, as Theresa May has commented ‘feel secure in their home, settled in their community and able to plan for the future with confidence’ there is also the issue for some landlords who might need to evict tenants for various reasons such as rental arrears or anti-social behaviour who need quick solutions. These landlords need to be able to recover their property without the need for it to take up months of their time potentially costing them thousands of pounds in unpaid rent and lengthy waits for a court date.
Why reform is necessary
An overview of the system is in our view necessary, landlords should be able to gain swift possession if the tenant has not been paying rent. This will hopefully be implemented and has been promised by way of expedited court processes. Because, as it stands, there are two routes to possession, there is consequently no actual data on how many evictions take place because of rent arrears. This will become apparent if Section 8 becomes the only available option for landlords and they will be compelled to state the reason for eviction under section 8.
Once it becomes apparent exactly how many evictions are due to rental arrears there might be further implementation of policies and procedures that can help mitigate the risk for both landlords and tenants from facing the minefield of an eviction.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance