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.
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.
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
- 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.