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RLA’s landlord coalition says confidence is key

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Section 21 repossessions should be retained in the private rented sector unless and until a new system is in place that provides landlords with the same level of confidence about repossessing properties in legitimate circumstances.

The RLA brought together landlords and letting agents’ groups at a summit in London to form the Fair Possessions Coalition, to address government plans to abolish Section 21.

In all 18 groups and individuals have united in warning plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions WITHOUT a new system in place would undermine investment in the sector at a time when private landlords are relied upon on to provide homes for one in five households in England. 

In a statement the coalition notes that whilst landlords much prefer to have good tenants staying long term in their properties they need certainty that in legitimate circumstances, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, they can swiftly and easily repossess them in much the same way as social landlords and mortgage lenders.

It is argued that the current Section 8 process, under which landlords can repossess properties based on a number of grounds, is not fit for purpose and does not provide the level of certainty offered by Section 21.

The current judicial process for dealing with possession cases is confusing for tenants and takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening. 

Comprehensive overhaul

Instead of tinkering with the system, the coalition calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the regulations and processes enabling landlords to repossess their properties. 

It should lay out clear grounds for repossession that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants. 

Linked to the reform should be the establishment of a new, dedicated, fully funded housing court. 

This should make better use of mediation taking into account models in use abroad and meet in local venues such as schools and community centres, making the process less intimidating and easier for landlords and tenants to obtain the swift and accessible justice they need if the relationship is to work effectively.

The coalition argues that such reforms must form part of a wider package of measures including welfare reforms to better support vulnerable tenants to sustain tenancies and smart taxation to encourage the development of the new homes for private rent the country needs. 

RLA leading Section 21 campaign

The RLA has been leading on the issue of Section 21 since the government announcement, with representatives appearing in the national media to explain the impact of the plans on landlords – and outlining the potential knock-on effect on the number of homes available to rent.

Within days the RLA had launched a comprehensive survey of members asking them what aspects of the current legislation they would like to see protected and what changes could be made to allow the repossession process to work better for them.

A record number of landlords – more than 6,000 – took part, with headline results showing more than 46% plan to sell as a result of the government’s plan.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler also wrote a piece for RLA members’ magazine Residential Property Investor, vowing to work with the association to develop a possession process that works for all.

The Fairer Possessions summit in the capital was organised by the RLA to show that industry bodies are united in their views, and strengthen the message to government that Section 21 MUST stay until a fair and sensible alternative is introduced to take its place.

More information:

The Fair Possessions Coalition is made up of (in alphabetical order): 

  • ARLA Propertymark
  • Cornwall Residential Landlords Association
  • Country Land and Business Association
  • East Midlands Property Owners
  • Eastern Landlords Association
  • Guild of Residential Landlords
  • Humber Landlords Association
  • iHowz
  • Landlord Action
  • Leeds Property Association
  • National Landlords Alliance
  • National Landlords Association
  • North West Landlords Association
  • Portsmouth and District Private Landlords’ Association
  • Residential Landlords Association
  • Safe Agent
  • South West Landlords Association 
  • Theresa Wallace (Chair, The Lettings Industry Council)
  • To read the full statement sent to government click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • As a member of both the RLA and National Landlords Alliance I fully support the stance taken over Section 21 and Section 8 by the Fair Possessions Coalition. However, I object to the unnecessary and casual use of the term ‘criminal landlords’ in your editorial. A landlord is only a criminal when he/she is convicted of a criminal offence. Therefore ‘criminal landlords’ must be a very small proportion of the number of landlords operating in the PRS.

    • The use of the word criminal is deliberate in this case as the term ‘rogue landlord’ does not reflect the severity of what is happening in some instances. We have always made the point that the number of criminal landlords operating in the PRS is very small indeed. However we must acknowledge these people are out there and have no place in the sector. A criminal is still a criminal if they have committed an offence, regardless of whether they have been prosecuted.

  • “It should lay out clear grounds for repossession that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants”

    under no circumstances can a rogue tenant be labelled a criminal tenant whereas a landlord can be deemed a criminal based on the trivialist of things. a fellow landlord friend of mine was threatened with prosecution based on the following

    1. debris piled up by the tenants in the garden
    2. not having displayed his name and address in the communal area of his HMO

    technically he could be classed as a criminal landlord as under strict liability law, he would be prosecuted and then be a criminal. put the shoe on the other foot and there is literally nothing a tenant can do before they fall under the same umbrella as a criminal tenant. even if they burn down the house, they would still only be classed as a criminal if they did it with intent and would still be free to rent property in the future whereas a criminal landlord wouldnt be able to under the new licensing schemes

    all said and done, as landlords like myself open their eyes to the strict liabilities they now face for small errors in judgement, they will soon be investing their money elsewhere. i have begun and anticipate a full exit from my residential portfolio before brexit is complete.

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