Private Sector Tenancies Central Housing Group

Government slated by Tory MP and agency chief over Sections 21 and 24

The chairman of Hunters estate agency, who is also a Conservative MP, has hit out at the government over its handling of Section 21 and Section 24 changes in recent years.

The government says it wants to ban outright Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction powers in England and Wales. Instead landlords seeking to evict tenants would have to use Section 8, which can be implemented when a tenant has fallen into rent arrears, has been involved in criminal or antisocial behaviour or has broken terms of the rent agreement, such as damaging the property.

The government says it will amend Section 8 to allow it to be used by landlords if they want to sell the property or move back in themselves. Unlike S21, tenants can challenge S8 evictions in many cases.

However, Kevin Hollinrake MP – who founded Hunters and remains its chairman in addition to being a Conservative MP – says he has “extreme concerns” about the effects of such a ban on Section 21 evictions.

He has told The Property Ombudsman’s conference that the scrapping of S21 was one example of how the government does not “road test” measures with either the property industry or the consumer before introducing them. “We don’t debate stuff well enough before we roll it out” he sayd.

Hollinrake shared a panel at the conference with Mark Prisk MP, a former housing minister who was also a former Knight Frank employee with substantial industry experience. Both suggested that government should take more notice of MPs with appropriate experience.

With regard to Section 24 – the measure introduced in 2015 and which will ultimately scrap all mortgage interest tax relief for landlords – Hollinrake said: “That was a really bad move but the frustration was that no one [from government] mentioned it to me or Mark.”

However, Hollinrake did attempt to set out to delegates why the government was taking such interest in the private rental sector, with a slew of measures introduced recently.

He said there was concern about rogue landlords – no matter how few of them there may be in the context of the growing size of the sector – and there was also high-level concern about falling owner occupation levels from 71 to 63 per cent in recent years, making the rental option more significant than ever before.

“Therefore the government wants to professionalise the rental sector, and no one should disagree because we’re all professiona;s” he said – although he went on to express his scepticism about Build To Rent because he wanted the rental sector to continue to help “the small guy building something for himself.”

And Hollinrake added that fault existed on both sides, not just the government’s, when legislation appeared not to help the industry.

He suggested that the industry failed to speak with one voice, did not always brief MPs before major debates, and that too few individual agents made the effort to meet with their own MPs to express why specific measures were harmful for the sector.

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