Habitation Law Central Housing Group

Accept end of S21 or let Build To Rent take over, says agent

A leading agent has repeated his controversial belief that the proposed scrapping of Section 21 eviction powers should be seen as an opportunity and not a threat.

The proposal by the UK government has been sharply criticised by almost everyone in the private rental industry, but David Alexander – joint managing director of Scottish-based property management service Apropos – says the experience of the heavily regulated Scottish market provides a model for implementing stronger regulations in England and Wales .

This would ensure the market thrives rather than dies with greater regulation, he insists.

Alexander says there was trepidation among Scottish landlords before the introduction in December 2017 of Private Residential Tenancy agreements which ended no-fault evictions in Scotland – but such fears remain unsubstantiated.

Indeed, he claims there is evidence that a landlords’ right to evict has been strengthened by the legislative changes as there is now a shorter period in gaining an eviction notice and the grounds for eviction remain strong and can be more rapidly enforced.

“The use of no- fault evictions has always been a bit of a blunt instrument sometimes used in a fairly discretionary and unfair way. Modern letting is all about ensuring there are strong and open relationships between landlords and tenants with fairness at the root of it all” he says.

“It should be noted that, under the new Scottish system, there remain strong grounds for eviction when it is necessary and there is evidence that the Scottish system is now faster in implementing this.

“Under the earlier legislation a tenant had to be three months in arrears before a notice to quit could be issued with the reality that this would take a further six months to get to court. A notice to leave can now be issued at a much earlier stage and there are 18 mandatory and discretionary grounds for repossession under the new system. These include the landlord planning to sell or move the property, breaches of the tenancy agreement or anti-social behaviour.”

He suggests that with cases now being heard by the First Tier Tribunals’ Housing and Property Chamber – effectively a housing court – which provides a free service with neither party requiring representation, the Scottish industry has a more efficient and effective system to deal with disputes.

“The ending of the no faults ground for eviction notices and introducing much greater security of tenure for tenants is feared by some in the property market as a sign of losing control. On the contrary it gives agents, landlords and tenants the opportunity to develop a relationship built on trust, on fairness, and on developing a long-term relationship to the mutual benefit of all concerned” he continues.

“There is some scaremongering going on about a dramatic drop in the number of properties if section 21 is abolished. I think that is a serious mistake. Some landlords won’t adapt and consequently will leave the market. But make no mistake fairer rights and greater security for tenants is the future for the lettings sector. If existing landlords won’t meet these demands, there are many coming into the market whether through institutional investors investment in Build To Rent or large-scale investors who understand that the private rented sector is here to stay and will provide good returns for decades to come.”

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