Sunday, 06 January 2019 09:57

Scrapping Section 21 WILL increase homelessness.

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Scrapping Section 21 WILL increase homelessness.

The 'Fitness For Habitation Bill' just passed into law. We supported it as did most other landlord associations but there are elements of the wording of the final bill which are cause for concern.  One of those is the desire to scrap Section 21 evictions.

The bill started as a private members bill championed by MP Karen Buck. See below the letter sent to her on our behalf by committee member, Tony Athill...

Dear Mrs Buck

I have just listened to all of Thursday’s debate. I understand all your issues with Section 21 especially the lack of security tenants have but you need to understand that anything that makes it harder for landlords to repossess their property will reduce investment in the sector. In many parts of the country there is a desperate shortage of accommodation available to low income households especially benefits claimants and the vulnerable. If you do away with Section 21 more people will be homeless. The PRS is growing but not where we need it to grow.

Talk to most advisors and their advice to Landlords with problem tenants is to use section 21 not section 8. This is why you are being misled. 

I have a tenant paying below what I could get for a flat. I don’t evict him because replacing him would cost more in administration and work turning the flat around than I would gain. Then there is the risk of ending up with a bad tenant. Very few landlords evict without good reason. We just do not have the evidence to support your argument. 

I am not saying there is no misuse of S21 but the balance is not as you see it. The RLA / MMU research made it very clear we need more evidence before jumping to any conclusions. (1)

You questioned the RLA evidence that half section 21s were issued due to tenants defaulting on their obligations. You said help would be rejected by the Local Authority following an enquiry into why they were evicted. Landlords won’t tell the LA why they are evicting nor will the tenants because they know the LA will then not help the tenant. When a tenant comes to your surgery they are unlikely to admit they spent their LHA on a holiday or have been disturbing the neighbours. 

We need an alternative and efficient way of removing tenants who default on their obligations. We need to incentivise landlords who are in it for the long term to offer longer tenancies without deterring those only able to let their property short term. We need to know what proportion of S21 repossessions are unfair. Then we can look at reform.

I listened, distressed, to your colleagues tales of criminal landlords. That is another problem. Local Authorities have powers but don’t use them especially at the bottom of the ladder. I know for a fact that Portsmouth CC avoid looking at certain properties because they have nowhere to put the tenants they may have to rehouse. (And PCC work harder at enforcement than most.) THAT IS OUR PROBLEM. 

If you want to reduce the size of the PRS you need to provide alternatives not just make life more and more difficult for landlords who are providing an essential service. 

(1) https://www.mmuperu.co.uk/assets/uploads/files/MMU_Homelessness_and_the_private_rented_sector.pdf

Seasons Greetings

Anthony Athill

Representative of Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association

Small landlord who has never had to evict in 30 years. 

Last modified on Sunday, 06 January 2019 17:24

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