NRLA on evictions after tenant reform bill
The UK government’s planned reform of the rental sector will see the elimination of Section 21 evictions, which Shelter says is one of the main reasons for homelessness in the UK.
The government’s ‘upgrade’ plan has been on the cards for some time, with the understanding that the current Section 21 will end, but does that leave homeowners unprotected?
Landlords fear they are vulnerable to serial rogue tenants, who use the system to live rent-free. Some landlords have faced a worsening of this problem, during lockdown-related eviction bans.
This concern is exacerbated by the fact that suing someone – which may be the only future recourse – is costly and can take an extremely long time, while the landlord must make mortgage payments without rent annuity.
It was pointed out that as a result, tenant checks are likely to become more thorough and time-consuming as landlords attempt to mitigate the risk of this outcome.
So what will owners do if they want to repossess their property?
The bill is not designed to prevent landlords from being able to evict the tenant’s end point, but to protect tenants from no-fault evictions. Issues such as non-payment of rent or anti-social behavior will continue to be grounds for eviction under the new legislation.
NRLA policy chief Chris Norris stresses that more help should be provided to those who cannot pay, while ensuring that those who refuse to pay are held accountable.
“When it comes to rent arrears, we would much rather see every effort made to prevent them in the first place. To help with this, the government should release the Local Housing Benefit. That said, it is essential that the new grounds for enjoyment do not allow the impression that paying rent is an additional option”
He goes on to describe their suggestion as follows:
“We are offering a mandatory ground of possession where a tenant is at least 2 months in arrears of rent at the time a notice of repossession is served, and more than one month overdue at the time of a hearing at court”
As with rent arrears, the courts will have more leeway when it comes to repossessing properties, where tenants have been flagged for anti-social behavior. This includes making evictions mandatory for tenants who have committed related offenses.
Chris Norris also suggests that:
“Neighbors and roommates should also feel able to come forward to provide evidence that the landlord can use to support their claim, without fear of repercussions”
He also supports the government’s decision to shorten eviction notice periods, for cases of antisocial behavior, to protect vulnerable people.
Sell a property
Every landlord has the right to sell a property when they want or need to, but it’s a bit more complicated when it comes to landlords, the tenants currently living in their property. There have been cases in the past where landlords have abused this right to evict tenants.
Norris suggests a way to avoid this:
“Our proposed solution means that a landlord would have to demonstrate that they have retained a solicitor as part of the conveyancing process. They would also be required to provide a statutory declaration stating their intention to sell, if their claim was challenged.
The NRLA has worked closely with the government to ensure the new legislation is fair to landlords and tenants. You can read about their rental reform campaign here.
Whether their views on how the new system should work will materialize will only be clarified by the government.