Law News

The Government must get Removal of Section 21 Right, Insists the NLA

Rose Jinks - April 17, 2019

The Government must get its proposed removal of Section 21notices right, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has insisted.

The organisation has lambasted the Government’s proposal to remove Section 21 evictions, essentially creating indefinite tenancies in the private rental sector.

Section 21 was originally designed to allow landlords to regain possession of their properties to sell or move into themselves. The NLA has long argued that it has become a backstop to overcome the ineffective Section 8 process, whereby a landlord must go to court to regain possession when a tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement, as it is seen as slow, costly and inefficient.

Research conducted by YouGov, on behalf of the NLA, in December 2018 found that, of the 11% of landlords surveyed who had sought possession over the last five years where the tenant was in breach of their contract, 44% used only the Section 21 process, while a further 22% used both Section 21 and Section 8.

According to the Government’s own figures, tenants end tenancies in 90% of cases. Of the tenancies ended by the landlord, the majority are terminated due to tenant rent arrears.

Richard Lambert, the CEO of the NLA, says: “Landlords currently have little choice but to use Section 21. They have no confidence in the ability or the capacity of the courts to deal with possession claims quickly and surely, regardless of the strength of the landlord’s case. 

“England’s model of tenancy was always intended to operate in a sector where Section 21 exists. This change makes the fixed-term meaningless, and so creates a new system of indefinite tenancies by the back door.”

He insists: “The onus is on the Government to get this right. It’s entirely dependent on the Government’s ability to re-balance the system through Section 8 and court process, so that it works for landlords and tenants alike. The Government should look to Scotland, where they reformed the court system before thinking about changing how tenancies work. If the Government introduces yet another piece of badly thought out legislation, we guarantee there will be chaos.” 

The Managing Director of online letting agent MakeUrMove, Alexandra Morris, agrees: “The decision made by the Government to scrap Section 21 evictions is short-sighted and farcical. Tarring a Section 21 with the no fault eviction name is incorrect, as many landlords who heavily rely on the income from their properties use this, as well as the Section 8 notice, to evict tenants for non-payment of rent, ant-social behaviour, or the need to sell or refurbish. Section 8 evictions are time-consuming and a lot of money can be lost in this process.

“I believe that more research needs to be done on the wider issues in the industry before abolishing Section 21. Abolishing it before addressing these could leave both tenants and landlords in a worse position. Instead of tinkering with issues, the Government needs to fix them.”