The East Anglian Daily Times are reporting a comment by a local solicitor on the potential impact of the removal of the Section 21
Lee Pearce – who is partner and head of dispute resolution at Suffolk and Essex-based Ellisons Solicitors – believes the new system – under which private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at the end of rental contracts without providing a good legal reason and a longer notice period – will discourage investment in the sector and means the market will shrink.
“There will most definitely be a contraction in the private rented sector as an investment class,” he says.
“The sector may become less attractive if landlords, in appropriate circumstances, cannot rely upon quick and effective means of regaining control of their properties.
“Whether the mandatory grounds for possession – which is set to ensure the system also works for responsible landlords, letting agents and communities – will answer landlords’ calls for certainty remains to be seen.”
He also argues that while the change in law is aimed at providing renters with certainty and protection, it may mean they will suffer higher rents as waiting lists for social and affordable homes grow. Court processes could also end up being lengthy, he says.
“In a no-fault eviction, a landlord can use an accelerated paper-based procedure which does not involve the under-resourced courts and avoids considerable delays that come with listing a hearing at a county court service.
“With the new proposal, the tenant has the opportunity to attend a hearing and for landlords to evidence the grounds that have been met. However, the government has said it will seek to expedite the court process which would go a long way to address landlords’ concerns.”
However, he does point to positive proposals for landlords to cover aspects such as wanting to sell the property. A new ground contained in the proposals would ensure landlords are still able to recover possession of the property when they want to sell their property, move into it, or allow close family members to live in it.
There are also protections for landlords whose tenants repeatedly fall into serious rental arrears, he points out.
“Currently, unless a tenant is in two months’ rent arrears at the date of the hearing, the judge is not required to grant a possession order. The new proposals mean that providing a tenant has been in at least two months’ rent arrears three times within the previous three years, the judge is required to grant a possession order, no matter what the arrears are at the date of the hearing. This will protect landlords against tenants who repeatedly get into arrears but stay below the current two-month threshold.
“With the new proposal, the notice period will also be reduced where the tenant is involved in criminal behaviour or serious antisocial behaviour, but will be increased for rental arrears grounds.”