Scrapping Section 21 will put vulnerable tenants most at risk – claim

Vulnerable tenants suffering a higher risk of rent arrears will be hit hardest by plans to change the way landlords can repossess properties, a trade body claims.

The Residential Landlords Association has conducted what it calls one of the largest ever non-government surveys of letting agents and landlords and 84 per cent said that plans to scrap Section 21, ‘no explanation’ repossessions would make them “more selective” about the tenants they rent to.

The RLA is now warning that this means landlords would be less likely to rent to those considered to be of higher risk of rent arrears or causing damage to a property, such as tenants with pets. Agents and landlords would be concerned that if problems emerged they would not be able to swiftly regain possession.

The association, in a statement issued today, cites a Leeds landlord saying: “If Section 21 were to go I would only rent to professionals because I don’t want to be left in a situation where a tenant is in my property who cannot afford to pay the rent.”

The association adds that in its opinion the research also refutes the argument that many Section 21 notices are used for no reason.

Of those landlords who had used this route to repossess properties, 84 per cent had used it because of tenant rent arrears, 56 per cent had used it because of damage to a property and 51 per cent had used it because of anti-social behaviour.

Rather than landlords seeking to evict tenants by this route 26 per cent said that they had served a Section 21 notice at the tenants request to enable them to seek social housing to avoid them being classed as intentionally homeless.

The RLA says the problem facing agents and landlords is that the Section 8 process can take a long time during which a problem tenant may not be paying rent or could potentially be causing a nuisance to other tenants or neighbours.

It currently takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them.

The government plans to consult on proposals to scrap Section 21 repossessions in favour of an as of yet undefined system.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “Whilst no landlords should ever abuse the system, it is only right and fair that they can repossess properties swiftly and with certainty in legitimate circumstances.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “Whilst no landlords should ever abuse the system, it is only right and fair that they can repossess properties swiftly and with certainty in legitimate circumstances.

“At present, only Section 21 provides this certainty. If the Government is to get rid of it, landlords should have the same level of confidence and certainty about repossessing properties in cases such as rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell the property.

“Without such confidence landlords will simply leave the market, making it more difficult for the growing number of people looking for a home to rent.

“Secure tenancies will mean nothing without the homes to rent being there in the first place.”

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