Whilst we all know that we are far from back to normal, there are some legislative aspects starting to move back to their pre-pandemic positions, which could have potentially significant consequences.
At the outset of the pandemic the Government, looking at the impact that furlough and lockdown would have on the country, took the decision to protect vulnerable renters from being evicted from their properties.
Changes to Section 21 and Section 8 notices were implemented and then subsequently extended, to provide renters with at least 6 months’ notice, but that all changed on the 1st October 2021.
A Return To Norm?
A return to standard procedures sees two months’ notice for landlords serving a Section 21 notice or as short as two weeks for a Section 8. Landlords still have to follow strict rules when it comes to evictions, even though the covid measures have been lifted, so people should not worry that the bailiffs will suddenly be knocking at their door.
The question is though, after implementing these changes and then relaxing them, does the current legislation continue to provide a balance of necessary protection for tenants, whilst providing the landlord with suitable rights of redress to remove problem tenants?
Rising Cases & Backlogs
It’s inevitable that the number of potential evictions will now rise. Current predictions suggest an increase in evictions to 150,000 per year but, with the backlog of cases that already exists in the court system that could take months to address.
Add this to the shortage of bailiffs in the industry to execute any order and you can see the potential issues facing the landlord who needs to legitimately remove a tenant.
Leading industry spokesman and landlord legal services provider, Paul Shamplina of www.landlordaction.co.uk expresses his views on the current situation and the issues facing landlords,
“35% of our instructions now are for Section 21, the main reasons are still that landlords want to sell their properties and benefit from current high prices.
I believe Section 21 will be abolished in the next two years. Landlords need confidence in the court system that they can get their properties back in a reasonable time, so the recent Government announcement of a £324 million investment to address capacity issues and tackle the current backlog is welcome.
Grounds of Section 8 also have to be strengthened, along with use of mediation. Bailiff reform of the use of High Court Sheriffs has to be implemented, as there is a chronic bailiff shortage.”
And these very issue raises an important point.
During the last 18 months, landlords have been unable to seek possession of their property and we know of many legitimate and appropriate reasons why landlords wish to serve Section 21 notices; typically to sell their property, release equity, retirement, divorce and bereavement.
Therefore, in our opinion, there needs be a mechanism to get vacant possession of your property when it is required.
As a professional landlord, Open Property Group support any initiatives that improve the balance tenant/landlord relationship.
The key of course is finding the right balance. We face a court system that is bursting at the seams, a shortage of bailiffs to execute any orders, and a risk that landlords could be using the system to evict for the wrong reasons.
The net result being an explosion in the number of cases hitting the courts and landlords looking at a longer notice time window.
Is there an answer?
Future Reform? 2021 and Beyond
Coming around the corner is a Government Rental Reform White Paper proposing the banning of no-fault evictions.
However, The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has advised that the Rental Reform White Paper will now not be published until some point next year. A spokesperson for the Department added:
“We remain committed to delivering a fairer private rented sector – this includes ending the practice of no-fault evictions. We will continue to engage constructively with stakeholders across the sector as we develop proposals.”
We hope that this delay works favourably for the Government, enabling them to produce further reforms that work for both tenant and landlord.
So, whilst the ability to use Section 21 has been re-instated we know that reform is coming.
In the meantime, continuing the current system will inevitably lead to greater pressure through the courts, frustration across the whole rental sector, and a system that can be improved.
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