Groups within the private rental sector (PRS) are warning that Section 21 repossessions should be kept as an option unless and until a new system is in place.
Such a system should provide landlords with the same level of confidence about repossessing properties in legitimate circumstances.
These groups have spoken out on behalf of landlords and letting agents, forming a ‘Fair Possessions Coalition’. They have united to spread the warning that plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions without a replacement would undermine investment in the sector at a time when private landlords are needed to provide homes to one in five households in England.
A statement from the Coalition has noted that whilst landlords much prefer to let to good tenants on a long-term basis, they also need to feel certain that in circumstances such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, they will be able to easily and swiftly regain possession of their properties.
The Section 8 process will still be in place, but it is argued that it is not fit for purpose. Currently, landlords can repossess properties based on a number of grounds using this process, but it does not provide the level of certainty offered by Section 21. The current judicial process for dealing with possession cases is not only confusing for tenants but can take on average over five months from a landlord applying to the courts to the repossession actually taking place.
The Coalition believes that, instead of tinkering with the system, a comprehensive overhaul of the regulations and processes enabling landlords to gain repossession of their properties should take place. Clear grounds for repossession that cannot be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants are needed.
A new dedicated and fully funded housing court should be established as part of the reform. The Coalition believes that it should make better use of mediation, taking into account models in use abroad. Meetings should be held in local venues, such as schools and community centres, in order to make the process less intimidating and easier for landlords and tenants to obtain the swift and accessible justice they need if the relationship is to work effectively.
Finally, the Coalition argues that such reforms must be part of a wider package of measures, including welfare reforms, to provide better support for vulnerable tenants and smart taxation to encourage the development of new homes for private rent.
The Fair Possessions Coalition is made up of:
- ARLA Propertymark;
- Cornwall Residential Landlords Association;
- Country Land and Business Association;
- East Midlands Property Owners;
- Eastern Landlords Association;
- Guild of Residential Landlords;
- Humber Landlords Association;
- Landlord Action;
- Leeds Property Association;
- National Landlords Alliance;
- National Landlords Association;
- North West Landlords Association;
- Portsmouth and District Private Landlords’ Association;
- Residential Landlords Association;
- Safe Agent;
- South West Landlords Association; and
- Theresa Wallace (Chair, The Lettings Industry Council)