On Monday, the Government announced that it is intending to launch a consultation on scrapping Section 21, so called ‘no fault’, repossessions.
The announcement came just two days after the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford AM announced similar plans for Wales, at the Welsh Labour Party conference at the weekend.
The RLA has recently launched a survey for landlords, collecting their views on the possession process. Please click here to share your views.
Here, our policy manager John Stewart answers some frequently asked questions from landlords about what happens next.
What has been announced?
“The Government has announced its intention to scrap section 21, and will be launching a consultation on the best way that this can be achieved. As well as this, the Government has also committed to looking widely at the justice system, including a housing court-something that the RLA has previously called for-as well as strengthening the current Section 8 process. So it is going to quite a wide ranging consultation”.
When will the Government consultation be launched?
“At the moment the Government have not said when this consultation will be launched. The Government has said that it will be an eight week consultation, which isn’t that long. Section 21 enables landlords to gain possession quickly and if they get the papers right, there doesn’t need to be a hearing in court. There’s no clear timetable, but we expect it to be launched quite soon”.
Will this consultation apply to Wales?
“Housing is a devolved power, so this consultation announcement does not affect Wales. However, at the weekend, the Welsh Government also announced plans to launch a consultation on Section 21 over the summer. It is something that will be put through via the Welsh Assembly, rather than Westminster”.
What is the RLA calling for?
“The RLA is concerned about this proposal, because we understand how important Section 21 is for landlords confidence. Demand for private rented housing is expected to rise as more and more families and older people are renting in the private rented sector. Added to which, landlords have seen a lot of change to the sector in recent years. Our first concern is that should Section 21 go, some landlords will turn away from the sector, and some may look to change the way they let out their properties, for example they may chose to turn to short term holiday lets.
“We are also concerned that the change may mean that vulnerable tenants could struggle, and we might see a change in landlord behaviour, and tenant referencing is likely to become even more important. If a tenant has a poor credit history, for example, then the RLA is concerned that the private rented sector could become a difficult place to rent”.
What is the RLA going to do?
“We know that Section 21 does give landlords the confidence to regain possession of their property quickly if they need to, and we are planning on consulting with members, encouraging them to share their experiences with us.
Research has shown that Section 21 is usually not a ‘no-fault’ eviction. Research conducted by MMU for the RLA last year shows that over half of the notices are used where tenants have rent arrears, are committing anti-social behaviour, or they have damaged the property.
While landlords could use the Section 8 route to gain possession due to these, anti-social behaviour and rent arrears are not mandatory grounds. For many landlords a Section 8 also takes a long time. We know from Government data that the mean time is actually over 22 weeks, which is a very long time for landlords to go without rent.
So, the RLA wants to ensure that whatever comes of of the consultation, landlords will be able to recover their property effectively and efficiently, to give landlords the confidence to stay in the sector.”.
Does this announcement affect my ability to serve a Section 21 notice now?
“No it doesn’t, nothing will change for the foreseeable future.”
When will this come into force?
“It will require new legislation, so is likely to be a lengthy process. We are unlikely to see any change inside two years. That said, we do need to gather evidence , to ensure the process works for landlords”.