Tenants who have been served eviction notices are costing landlords thousands of pounds, by staying in properties until the very last minute. Local authorities and other agencies are often advising private tenants to ignore any eviction notices which have been served and waiting until the bailiffs come to evict them. In this way, they can qualify as homeless and are eligible for re-housing.
It is a big problem for landlords and property management companies, because 47 percent of tenants served with a Section 21 eviction notice said they were advised to ignore it by their local authority or advice agencies like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Shelter. The National Landlords Association, which has given evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the Homelessness Reduction Bill, has produced a study showing the cost of this advice to stay in their rental home is £6,763. This is another additional cost which the landlord has to bear, as the property cannot be re-let during the period between the notice being served and eviction, so the property is losing money. The aim of the CLG Committee’s inquiry is to find out if the Bill is workable, as well as looking into prevention work and the financial impact it will have on councils.
The Homeless Reduction Bill aims to amend the Housing Act 1996, so that eviction notices are proof that an applicant is at risk of being made homeless. This is a positive move, as it means people can be declared homeless when they have been served with an eviction notice. At the moment, they need to be removed by the bailiffs, before the local authority will class them as homeless. The Bill helps tenants as they no longer need to be on the streets to be classified as homeless. This move will also give people time to seek help in finding another place to live, before they lose their existing home.
NLA chief executive, Richard Lambert, explained that his authority has campaigned against this practice, as it is damaging to their members. He said it would make it much less likely to need to bring in the bailiffs, will take the strain off the court system, and will provide landlords with the confidence to let their properties to vulnerable tenants. He welcomed the new Bill, saying he hoped it would reduce homelessness, by supporting tenants while encouraging the good work that landlords do across the country, The Residential Landlords Association also backs the Bill, with chairman Alan Ward pointing out that the ‘ludicrous’ situation at the moment of having to wait until the bailiffs are at the door does not help landlords or tenants.
However, landlords’ confidence in local councils is not likely to increase, as the Local Government Association claims the new legislation will not work. It wants central government to work on closing the gap between incomes and rising rents. It argues that building more social housing or affordable homes is the way forward.