Members may have seen the sensationalist coverage of a possible 'tsunami of evictions' in the local press. Even though several key PDPLA members had their say, the overall feel of the coverage was that landlords were once again portrayed as the villain of the piece. So, what are the facts?
Firstly, there is little evidence that the courts are going to be inundated with new cases seeking possession of property by their owners – one of the main protagonists of the 'it is going to be bad' argument, Tina Smith of Swain & Co in Havant was quoted as saying, "At the moment the court lists are sedate".
Next, most cases that do reach court are clearly well founded – if the tenant fails to turn up to contest it or refuses legal help (as was the case in all but 7 in the 30+ specific cases that were analysed), then it is logical that they accept that they have broken their contract and are at fault – people don't go to court for fun and typically, every other avenue has been tried before it reaches this stage.
It is worth mentioning our crusade to get mediation established as an alternative to or supporting element of, the court process. By the time things reach court it is usually too late - both sides just want it to be over. What is needed is a process of tenant support and advice to help them learn to budget and manage their finances, to address their debts and then mediation to re-establish trust between landlord and tenant. We are not there yet, but the more success we have in the area, the better it will be for all concerned.
Finally, the most important fact that is most frequently overlooked is that the majority of evictions are started by social landlords and local councils. The article stated that council tenants in Portsmouth and Havant owe nearly £2m in rent, 997 of Gosport Borough Council's tenants are in arrears and there are 804 more in Fareham. Gosport have sought 8 possession orders so far this year, figures for Portsmouth are not available.
In one extreme case, subsequently reported in The News, Gosport council almost evicted a man for £15 arrears, even though they had only used 22% of the 'hardship funds' available to them.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.