Law News

Agents urged to update contract and eviction notices in preparation for Section 21 changes

Em Morley - January 3, 2020

The Conservative Party is supportive of plans to reform the Housing Act, and, as such, PayProp has pointed out how beneficial it will be to start preparations early.

Updating key documentation and automating arrears management will help for a smoother transition when the big changes are eventually made.

Queen’s Speech confirms Section 21 removal

On 19th December 2019, it was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech that Section 21 will be scrapped in favour of a reformed evictions process.

The plan was at the forefront of the ‘Better Deal for Renters’ section of the Conservative Party’s manifesto. The Party also pledged to strengthen the rights of possession for good landlords through the Renters’ Reform Bill.

Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp, says: “For some time, the political will – regardless of party – has been to remove Section 21 from the Housing Act 1988 and reform the eviction system.

“Following the Queen’s Speech, letting agents and landlords need to start preparing for change and updating their processes accordingly as it has been confirmed that the evictions process will be reformed through the same Bill.”

The importance of updating key documents and processes

Cobbold highlights that agents will need to update their contract templates and eviction notices in preparation for Section 21 changes, which is highly likely to revolve around a strengthened Section 8.

He explains: “One of the most important aspects of eviction reform for agents will be educating and informing landlords and tenants about how the new system will work.

“However, on top of this, they will also need to make sure their documents are up-to-date and watertight to evidence their adherence to current and proposed legislation. This will give landlords and tenants the best chance of a smooth eviction process.

“Agents who adopt thorough record-keeping and arrears management can prove their worth to landlords and increase their chances of new business and client retention.

“Having the right technology and systems in place can be a huge help in making these changes seamless and efficient.”

Be proactive about reducing evictions! 

Letting agents should consider ways to reduce the chances of landlords needing to evict their tenants, Cobbold suggests.

He says that by removing Section 21, the methods used by landlords to regain possession of their properties could be impacted. The Government has acknowledged the need to improve the court process, but the reforming of the grounds for possession could have teething problems. Agents have the opportunity to mitigate this by improving their own internal procedures.

Cobbold concludes: “With this in mind, agents need to think about the ways they can help to reduce the frequency of evictions. Encouraging good relationships between landlords and tenants is all-important, as is staying on top of repairs and facilitating good communication between both parties.

“Rent arrears are one of the most common reasons for evictions, so agents can help landlords to keep them to a minimum by sending automated emails and text messages – which are proven to be more effective when it comes to chasing rent payments.

“Using technology and automation will be crucial for agents to stay on top of constantly changing industry regulation and legislation.”