Law News

Scrapping Section 21: “Tinkering with the current system is not good enough,​” says RLA

Em Morley - August 1, 2019

Private landlords in England who have experience using the courts to repossess a property are not receiving the service they need, with 79% feeling dissatisfied with the way they work.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) found out this information by conducting one of the largest landlord and letting agent surveys ever undertaken. It also reveals that 91% of landlords would support the establishment of a dedicated housing court.

In a letter to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland MP, the RLA has warned that with Ministers pledged to scrap Section 21 repossessions, the courts are simply unable to cope with the increased pressures they will face.

The association highlights that it currently takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them.

Similar reforms were made in Scotland, which led to the Government investing new money and providing more staff, after it underestimated the increased pressures brought on the court system.

Tenants have also reported issues with the system. Previous research published by Citizens Advice shows that 54% of tenants have said that the complexity of the process puts them off going to court in the case that their landlord is failing to look after their property. 45% of tenants also said that the time it takes to go through the courts has put them off taking action.

The RLA argues that tinkering with the current system is not good enough. It is calling on the Government to establish a single, dedicated housing court that is properly funded and properly staffed.

At present, landlords have two options for repossession: 

  • Section 21, which enables landlords to do so once a tenancy has ended and requires two months’ notice to be given, but no requirement for a reason to be provided.
  • Section 8, which allows landlords to repossess a property under a number of set grounds, including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.

David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said:“Ministers are proposing some of the most far reaching changes the private rented sector has ever seen. If the new Government decides it wants to proceed with these it is vital that significant and bold reforms are made to the court system.

“With landlords and tenants failing to secure justice in a timely fashion when things do go wrong, anything other than wholesale changes with proper funding to support it will lead to chaos.”