Landlords can heave a significant sign of relief today after the government resisted pressure from tenant groups to make the grounds for eviction under Section 21 and Section 8, Ground 8 discretionary rather than mandatory.

This may have opened the floodgates for thousands of possession claims to be rejected by the Courts once hearings restart on August 24th. The proposals adopted are similar to those recommended by the NRLA.

Such a change would have also led to significant extra costs and time delays for landlords and made evictions much harder for landlords.

Today, housing minister Chris Pincher made a statement on the latest changes to the possession hearing regulations laid before parliament on Friday, which – as we have reported – require new rules to be followed

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Normalise proceedings

“We are moving through a transition phase and it is right that we normalise proceedings and procedures,” Pincher said.

“To that effect I have had conversations with the Master of the Rolls and with Sir Rob Knowles, who have been quite clear that they want to ensure that the courts act properly to hear landlords’ and tenants’ concerns.

“I want to be very clear that should a landlord not provide the requisite information to the courts about the effect of Covid on a tenant when a landlord is bringing forward an application then the courts will have powers to adjourn the case which will hit the landlord in the pocket.. and focus their minds.”

But the respite may only be temporary – the government has also today re-stated that it is committed to bringing forward both reforms designed to increase the security that tenants need and measures to strengthen the rights of landlords to regain their property when they need to do so. Legislation will be brought forward in due course.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA says: “We welcome the balance that the Government has struck between protecting both tenants and landlords by focusing on hearing priority possession cases in the courts from 24th August.

“For tenants and neighbours whose lives are blighted by anti-social tenants, for victims of domestic violence in rented housing and for landlords who may not have had any rental income for months due to severe rent arrears built up before the pandemic, the news that landlords will be able to apply to regain possession of these properties again will be a relief.

“That said, the changes to the Court process will inevitably add delay to an already slow process. Trying to reach a resolution away from the Courts, where possible, is essential and guidance to help tenants and landlords agree rent repayment plans is available.

“Eviction is not, and should not be seen as the inevitable outcome of getting behind with rent payments.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. “I want to be very clear that should a landlord not provide the requisite information to the courts about the effect of Covid on a tenant when a landlord is bringing forward an application then the courts will have powers to adjourn the case which will hit the landlord in the pocket.. and focus their minds.”
    Really what planet do these people live on? How on earth is this a LL’s responsibility? What if the Tenant doesn’t give the info? (Lets face it if they are savvy why should they?)
    Under what circumstances in a “normal” court proceeding would one side be expected to describe the other sides circumstances & effects an event has had on them.
    This is just another excuse to deny LL’s proper justice.

    • It makes you wonder if we are getting to the point where a class action could be a route. There will be thousands of us who will be severely out of pocket because the rules keep changing, making it impossible to run a business…

  2. You have to love the NRLA!

    “Eviction is not, and should not be seen as the inevitable outcome of getting behind with rent payments.”

    We have no other option! Little deposit, no way of getting rent from tenants that cant pay, a government and media that is pro tenants and more red tape than most other businesses.

    • It seems to be getting clearer that LL’s are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
      I wonder how many LL’s bent over backward to help their tenants through this very trying and uncertain time, or gone through a payment plan with them to avoid a sec21 in quote “normal times”
      only to find they had been taken advantage of by tenants who used the COVID 19 as an excuse not to pay their rent, blamed the council for not sorting it out.
      I have been saddened by the way some of my tenants have behaved through this.
      One example they said they had to isolate for 12 weeks, but up and left owing all rent and left nearly everything in the house, so needless to say it ended up costing quite a lot in loss of rent plus clearing the house when we could legally do it as no notice had been given.
      Tenants are well aware LL’s are not able to evict easily and they don’t care as they know the council has a duty of care to find them somewhere.
      What happened to the Universal credit being paid to the LL’s, going direct to the tenant who pays the mobile phone, internet, etc.
      If any tenant is on either UC or HB then all their rent should be paid to the LL not a bit from the council and bit from the tenant. There would be far fewer evictions for nonpayment of rent.
      Having said all that I am glad it is only the minority of tenants who behave in this manner as its only a minority of bad LL’s that make it harder for the majority of good LL’s

    • Ensure you take a full deposit in the beginning. Assured shorthold tenancy turns into a periodic tenancy. Two months notice tenant out. What’s the difficulties there.

  3. This is just more delays to aid the recalcitrant tenant and this article does not even mention the 14 days Notice of Eviction that has to be given by both the Court Bailiffs and HCEO (who ever has been instructed), so basically no more surprise visits by the HCEO’s. So that’s another fortnight with no rental income to add on to zillion weeks you’ve already waited.

  4. In my mind LL are getting shafted every which way these days! Yes tenants need protection from bad LL’s but equally LL’s need protection from bad tenants! Who loses out the most when you have a bad tenant? Who fits the massive bills? Tenants won’t have any money to pay back rent arrears or any damage to property most of the time. It’s all wrong. Then they bring in legislation where you can’t even pick your own tenants in case of discrimination.

    • Thats why we are shutting the business down and selling up, a couple of bad tenants can bring a small business to its knees where you lose everything , you have no way of ever recovering losses and the government by capping what local authorities pay towards tenants rent have effectively set a price cap in many areas. Its just not worth the hassle

    • I’m selling 2 of my flats that would fall into the bracket of HB. I’ve always provided high quality housing and been very careful about who I have as tenants. I’ve never had any problems with anti social behaviour, late rent or damage to property. In fact I’ve come to consider a couple of my long term tenants as friends. That process has now been taken away from me for fear of discrimination. I made a conscious decision that this would be my business going forward, but it doesn’t work for me any more in the way I envisaged. We are sitting ducks.

  5. The war on Landlords continues, from SDLT surcharges to tenancy paperwork it’s all to remove as many small to medium private Landlords as possible in order to control the industry and more importantly to funnel profits to the Government or companies backed by them. Accommodation is not a right. A transaction is involved because ownership is involved. If you don’t pay, you don’t receive. Tenants who refuse to pay rent should be the exception and should be dealt with quickly. Alternatively, let’s have some legislation that allows Landlords to withhold payments from banks if the Tenant is in arrears. The onus cannot and should not be on the Landlord every single time.

  6. You can’t help but wonder who the NRLA represent. In their attempts to be seen as reasonable and respond to the perception all landlords are bad/mean/greedy, they are giving away the farm. We need spokespeople who actually put up a proper fight.

  7. Make sure you have updated your data protection policy and registered with the ICO to allow the processing of special category data before you start collecting health data about your tenants.

  8. Simple solution to the eviction problem.
    Keep everything the same as it is except for transferring all other reasons for eviction under S21to the S8 process.

    Leaving the S21 process ONLY for rent defaulting.

    This would mean S21 becomes a FAULT based eviction process.

    However giving further ground to tenants I would say that if Police attend the following day to assist a LL to remove recalcitrant tenants that if the tenants were able to reduce rent arrears to one month that day with CLEARED funds that that the S21 process would start again.

    Effectively for a tenant to game this new system it would mean they could remain permanently in 1 month of rent arrears.

    But they would always need to be on hand the day after 1 month and one day of rent arrears to handover cleared funds to a LL or LA.

    But it would at least cap the amount of arrears a tenant would be allowed to run up.

    If S8 removal was successful as soon as a tenant passed 2 months of rent arrears then immediately the revised S21 process would kick in.
    It might take a long time for a S8 process to work but at least during this time the tenant would pay the rent as the threat of a fast S21 eviction would be hanging over them.

    By slightly gaming the system the tenant could remain for some time but at least they will be prevented from incurring massive rent arrears with the fast track S21 process being available with County Court required.

    It isn’t a perfect system for either party but would introduce a degree of fairness when currently it is 100% in favour of tenants.

  9. Martin, that’s politics. They have to represent good landlords in a reasonable way. I think they do a great job for landlords. It’s a shame so many landlords free ride on the NRLA paid by others. Just the free Wednesday webinars have made it worth while my being a member

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