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Proposed changes to Section 21 evictions

A proposed change to the law could streamline the process of landlords evicting tenants who are waiting to be re-housed by the local council.

Gaining possession under Section 21

At the moment, the eviction process can be a frustratingly long, drawn-out and expensive process, made worse by the fact that local councils could advise tenants to stay in a property until bailiffs arrive to turf them out.

In fact, according to a recent survey by the National Landlords’ Association, 47% of tenants served with a Section 21 notice of possession said they had been told by the local council or an advisory service such as Shelter or Citizens Advice to ignore it.

Tenants looking to be re-housed by the council who are told to stay put until they are evicted don’t really have any other option because if they ignore the advice and leave, the council could decide they have made themselves homeless and they’ll lose their right to priority housing.

Getting stuck with a tenant who won’t or can’t leave until evicted by bailiffs typically costs a landlord £6,763, says the National Landlords’ Association.

How long does the eviction process take?

If a tenant doesn’t leave by the date on their S.21 notice, a landlord must apply to court for an “accelerated” possession order, but this is not as speedy as it sounds. It can take around six weeks for a judge to consider the application and they can give the tenant up to six weeks to leave. If they still don’t go, the landlord has to go back to court to apply for a warrant for possession. If they ignore this too, bailiffs must be appointed.

It’s not unusual for the whole process to take six to eight months.

As a result, an increasing number of private landlords are shying away from housing tenants claiming benefits, fearful they will be hard to evict.

Of course, this growing reluctance by private landlords to provide social housing is compounding the shortage of accommodation available to councils looking to re-home tenants.

In short, it’s a vicious circle. 

Free Landlord Webinar:
How your legal obligations can affect gaining possession
under Section 21 and Section 8

Click here to watch


Proposed changes to Section 21 evictions

The Conservative MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, is trying to get the Housing Act amended so that councils will be obliged to accept a Section 21 notice as evidence that a tenant is threatened with homelessness.

The change to the law would require councils to look at re-housing a tenant from the date the Section 21 expires, rather than waiting until the tenant is actually on the street.

Mr Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill has received cross-party support and the backing of the Communities and Local Government Committee, which gives it a strong chance of succeeding.

However, it’s not a done deal yet. The Local Government Association has blasted the Bill as “unworkable”, saying that councils simply don’t have access to enough social housing for all those on waiting lists.

The Bill will get a second reading in the House of Commons on October 28.

Watch this space.

Free Landlord Webinar:
How your legal obligations can affect gaining possession
under Section 21 and Section 8

Click here to watch

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