RLA warns against scrapping of Section 21

Michael Lloyd

August 1, 2019

Scrapping Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions will leave courts unable to cope with the increased pressures they face, The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has warned.

The RLA told ministers this in a letter to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland.

Research from the RLA has found that 79% of private landlords with experience of using the courts to repossess properties are dissatisfied with the way they work. The RLA is calling for a single, dedicated housing court, which it found 91% of landlords would support.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “Ministers are proposing some of the most far reaching changes the private rented sector has ever seen. If the new government decides it wants to proceed with these it is vital that significant and bold reforms are made to the court system.

“With landlords and tenants failing to secure justice in a timely fashion when things do go wrong, anything other than wholesale changes with proper funding to support it will lead to chaos.”

It currently takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them.

The RLA said in Scotland, when similar reforms were undertaken, the government had to invest new money and provide more staff after it underestimated the increased pressures brought on the court system.

According to previous research published by Citizens Advice, 54% of tenants have said that the complexity of the process puts them off taking landlords to court where their landlord is failing to look after their property.

Some 45% of tenants said that the time involved put them off taking action through the courts.

At present, landlords can repossess properties using two routes. One, Section 21, enables a landlord to regain possession at the end of a tenancy and requires two months’ notice to be given but without providing a reason.

Under the other avenue, known as Section 8, landlords can repossess a property under a number of set grounds including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.

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