News From The Big City

News From The Big City

Tony stood in for Alwin as our representative on the Fair Possessions Coalition last Friday. Did he not know there was going to be a train strike? Fortunately, the  prospect of a strike had put off regular travellers and the journey was a joy. Anyway, with research showing that 84% of Section 21 repossessions are due to tenant arrears, most of the preconceptions about the need to abolish Section 21 seem to be misplaced. Here is his summary from the meeting in London:

  • The impression being given by Boris"s new housing team is that they are not too bothered about the PRS and doing away with section 21. 
  • Government is a bit distracted with this and that, mainly that. 
  • A backtrack is possible on doing away with Section 21 or at least leaving it in place until alternatives are tried and tested. New vigour is required by landlords if we are to achieve this outcome.  (FYI - a backtrack is like a backstop, except in this case we like a backtrack whereas everyone is confused by a backstop)
  • Our representatives have met with the PRS team from MHCLG (Our men from the Ministry) and they are listening and starting to understand why the bright idea to give tenants more security of tenure may backfire and end up with less of us prepared to house more vulnerable tenants. 
  • The big problem is that the government plans require reforms to the court system to make Section 8 repossession process work better. As yet the men from the Ministry of Justice are not talking to anyone even those at MHCLG. Urgent meetings are being sought. 
  • The latest Housing Minister, Ester McVey, is not keen on stats but likes real life stories. We need to give her examples of what the unforeseen consequences of making it harder to repossess property will be. Names of tenants and landlords can be redacted.  Please help us with examples.
  • The problems the Private Rented Sector (PRS) are facing are not obvious to those in power. As the sector is not shrinking, they think we are just exaggerating the issues. We know that those housing poorer and more vulnerable tenants are selling up or going up market. In many cases they are being replaced by inexperienced and ignorant new landlords taking advantage of shortages and charging high rents. 
  • Again, we need real examples of members who are having to sell property or evict tenants to survive. 
  • Even better you can write to or make an appointment to see your MP (As well as keeping us informed).
  • We discussed the message we need to get across to the new regime following the publication of the government plans and consultation. There was unanimous approval for the draft letter from the Coalition to Ester McVey adding a point that homelessness will increase if these 'reforms' take place as proposed.
  • One way this will occur is when landlords have to reveal that they wish to repossess due to rent arrears or antisocial behaviour; the local authority will see this and be absolved of their duty to assist with rehousing as the tenant made themselves homeless. This could be a positive for landlords who may then be able to identify undesirable tenants. 
  • For a more detailed discussion on the issue and what you can do about it see https://news.rla.org.uk/reforming-possession-england/ 

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