Tenants' rights activists protesting against Section 21

Landlords claim confidence would plummet without Section 21

Survey shows 84% would be more selective about the tenants they rent to.
25 July 2019 , Sarah Campbell

Landlords will become more choosy about whom they rent out their properties to if left without a reliable way to evict problem tenants, according to a survey of thousands of landlords.

The poll of 6,365 landlords and letting agents was carried out by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) in response to the Government’s announcement that it plans to scrap the right to regain possession of a property under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Tenants’ rights groups (and CIEH) have welcomed the plans, believing it could prevent retaliatory evictions by landlords who receive complaints from their tenants about living conditions.

However, the RLA has raised concerns that 84% of respondents said that plans to scrap Section 21 would make them more selective about the tenants they rent to. Just over 40% cannot envisage continuing to operate in the private rented section without Section 21, which suggests that landlords would sell up, further restricting the rental market. (However, 56% said they could envisage operating without Section 21 but with changes to Section 8 and the court process.)

“Without [the confidence of Section 21], landlords will simply leave the market, making it more difficult for the growing number of people looking for a home to rent,” said David Smith, policy director at the RLA.

“It is not accurate to suggest that getting rid of Section 21 will solve all of our problems. It will not make more houses available, as if by magic. It will not improve property standards, which are to do with local authorities. It may help with retaliatory eviction but there are already powers to deal with that which local authorities do not exercise effectively. Bad landlords will still behave badly.”

Tamara Sandoul, CIEH’s housing policy spokesperson, said: “Tenants have been put off making legitimate complaints about poor conditions and disrepair due to the fear of being evicted for no reason and at short notice. We therefore welcome the Government’s proposal to end Section 21 evictions.

“However, we also recognise that there will be legitimate reasons for landlords to recover their property. The abolishment of Section 21 should happen together with a careful review of Section 8 powers and the court system to ensure this works well for both landlords and tenants.”


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