Landlords increasingly forced to use Section 21 due to Section 8 delays. More than half of landlords are going through the no-fault eviction Section 21 process due to rent arrears, with many choosing this route instead of Section 8. This is because of the unpredictable results and unreasonable amount of time it takes for a Section 8 claim to be processed. A consultation from the Government concerning which major reforms should be made to the private rented sector, such as longer tenancies, the formation of a Housing Court, as well as the future plans for Section 21 has now reached its deadline, and the sector awaits its result.
Critics are now campaigning for Section 21 notice evictions to be outlawed, and argue that they give too much power to landlords. However, a survey conducted by Landlord Action discovered that when listing reasons for evictions by Section 21, landlords suggested that without them they fear that they will no longer have control over their rental properties. Of the landlords questioned in the survey, 73 per cent claimed that they have been forced to serve Section 21 notices, with over half, at 56 per cent, using the notices because of rent arrears from their tenant. According to the data, this is the only common reason to give Section 21 notices, as 22 per cent of the landlords selected ‘other’ as their reason behind using Section 21.
The founder of Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina, believes that many of the rent arrears and unspecified reasons for eviction could be pursued using Section 8, however, many landlords are forced to use Section 21 instead, even if there is a tenancy breach, due to their lack of faith in the courts. Not only is the Section 8 process more time-consuming, but tenants can cause further delays in the process by counter-claiming against the landlord.
In addition to this, the discretionary nature of Section 8, like anti-social behaviour, can prove troublesome for landlords to attain evidence of, which results in a lower rate of success. It is also clear from the research that landlords want possession of their properties as soon as possible, and are prepared to forfeit rent arrears by utilising Section 21 instead.
Other reasons for using Section 21 notices included possession orders, the need to refurbish the home, to sell the property or to move back into the home themselves, at 10 per cent, 5 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Only 0.6 per cent claimed they used the notice in retaliation to the tenant complaining about disrepair. 43 per cent of landlords also stated that their tenants left the property once the Section 21 notice was served, but 42 per cent were forced to go through the courts to gain possession of their property.
In response to criticism, the Government is planning a consultation on the introduction of a Housing Court, which would provide justice for tenants and landlords, as well as allowing landlords to gain repossession of their property if they need to. However, experts have warned that as part of these plans, the Section 21 process could be heavily diluted, without serious reform to Section 8, and without the flexibility and reassurance of Section 21, some landlords may exit the sector altogether.
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