Whilst the Tory pledge to get rid of Section 21 does not appear likely to be implemented anytime soon, we still worry as both Labour and the LibDems have similar policies. To that end, we have been actively collecting data and participating in consultation activities - for example, this month PDPLA Vice Chairman, Alwin Oliver, submitted a collection of case studies and suggested alternatives such as a new Housing Court styled on the Canadian solution - PDPLA members can see it here in the members area. Highlights follow…
A landlord who (sometimes) houses tenants who have been homeless, "Two tenants referred to us from a homeless charity, on housing benefit and in our property for two and a half years. Sadly, they both slipped through the local authority net and lost the support they needed to live independently ( one with early onset dementia and the other with dementia related to alcohol). After getting them back in system twice, and not being in a position to provide the care and support they required we used section 21 (with their agreement) to make them homeless and ensure they were both placed in homes that provided them with the support and assistance they so desperately needed."
Another example, "One of our landlords has an HMO divided into 5 bedsit/studios with basic facilities and further communal facilities. The City has introduced new standard for communal space which are much larger than other local authorities, meaning that the landlord was told the house was only suitable for 4 not 5. It has been inspected and approved before and was even accredited by Portsmouth City Council. They have changed their standards. Landlord has to evict one tenant or is breaking the law. There is no provision for this in the section 8 grounds. "
In one recent case we advised on, a lodger who was in rent arrears and further the subject of repeated complaints of drug abuse and theft of food from communal areas (by co tenants) took 11 months to repossess, during which his fellow tenants, low paid women workers in the service industries, lived in fear and discomfort. The landlord was a live in landlord letting out 4 rooms above the ground floor which he occupied. Due to the number of let out rooms the property was registered as a HMO.
This one has a long history of mismanagement and bad advice from insurers and legal professionals, all detailed in the document and ended when the landlord passed away as the situation stagnated. Under the terms of his will the probate solicitor was to deal with possession and sale of the property (at a cost of £5,600 to the landlords estate coupled with £4,000 lost rent).
The case of A, B and C was one of the sadder indictments of our legal system.
C was a divorced mother in har late 40"s caring for a disabled child, and is in receipt of benefits including carers allowance. As part of her divorce settlement C accepted 2 buy to let properties, with mortgages but had no savings and no other income.
Tenants A&B moved into the property with their children having answered an advertisement. They quickly stopped paying rent claiming that their bank account had been hacked. The landlord, on my advice sought a crime number and also details of the bank managers name in order that we could seek priority debt payment. C also wrote to the local authority seeking direct HB payment but A&B did not provide documents so after a short period the claim was disallowed.
The tenants claimed disrepair and the local authority identified work- that C could not fund as she was now paying the mortgage from her benefit income. The housing standards inspectors refused to advise the tenants to pay the rent.
As part of my duties with PDPLA I visited the property with the landlord, the tenants were not working, in dressing gowns (it was late morning) drinking cans of lager and smoking cigarettes. There was a Christmas tree it being December which had a large number of presents ready for A&Bs children.
The landlord asked for rent in order to fund the repairs- which would have cost less than one months rent. The tenants stated they were unable to pay and did not know where the money that was in their bank account had gone.
They were evicted under section 21- it as cheaper and more certain than section 8 and at the time made it more likely that the local authority would re house them.
C eventually sold her property at a considerable discount and thus lost a large chunk of her potential income.
She will probably be on benefits for the rest of her life
There are many more equally sad examples in the full document - and this is what life is like as a landlord with the ability to use Section 21. We are adamant that without it, unless there is a 'fit for purpose" alternative, many more landlords will be driven out of the business and will suffer than do so today.
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.