For over 20 years, there have been two ways for a landlord to end a tenancy – Section 21 which guarantees possession and is usually processed by post and Section 8 which requires a court hearing, (usually) proof that the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy and possession is at the discretion of the judge.
As most landlords know, when a Section 21 notice is issued, no reason needs to be given for serving the notice; in that respect it is rather like a ‘no fault’ divorce. The benefit of the Section 21 is that the landlord is guaranteed possession, and there is very rarely a need for either party to attend court.
Following pressure from lobbying groups stating that this process is unfair to tenants and does not engender stability for families, Government has now opened a consultation on their plans to abolish Section 21. The lobbyists claim that good tenants can be summarily ‘evicted’ from their homes, and this is unfair if they have not breached any terms of the tenancy.
Whilst you cannot deny that there are some bad landlords and unregulated agents who may lack scruples in evicting tenants, the facts show that the vast majority of landlords want long term tenancies and resort to a Section 21 only when absolutely necessary.
ARLA Propertymark is working closely with Government to assist in developing a sensible and equitable route forward. An essential element before Section 21 is abolished must be for the Section 8 process to be reformed to make it quicker and more accessible. There is also talk of introducing a dedicated housing court system, to keep housing matters out of the overcrowded County Courts. How this would be funded and facilitated has yet to be decided.
There are, however, matters that the Government has not yet commented upon. Section 8 orders must currently be issued against prescribed ‘grounds’ for possession. These do not cover matters such as death of a landlord, or where a property needs to be sold to fund a landlord’s personal care. Another matter is that currently local authorities will assist in rehousing tenants who have been given a Section 21 notice as they are deemed to be ‘unintentionally homeless’. However under Section 8 the tenant is almost always proven to be in breach and might risk not getting any assistance from the local council.
Much to ponder upon! Please contact us if you have any concerns or wish to find out more.
Jenny Clark MARLA
ARLA Propertymark Board Member – South West
01395 269955 firstname.lastname@example.org