One of the country’s leading lettings experts has outlined why the government is wrong to suggest that Section 8 powers could be used by landlords instead of Section 21.
Lisa Simon, head of residential at agency Carter Jonas, says that while the government’s intention to safeguard tenants by scrapping Section 21 of the Housing Act is honourable, there are unintended consequences which could lead to fewer landlords remaining in the sector.
“That said, the removal of Section 21 would be more widely accepted if it were replaced with a robust alternative” admits Simon.
But she adds that there is concern among landlords that the process of regaining possession – should it be required – could become more arduous and expensive, and with no guarantee that the tenant will even vacate the property at the end of it.
And she outlines why the government’s recommendation that Section 8 could be used instead has significant shortcomings.
“As it stands, a Section 8 notice is often only issued when a tenant is in rent arrears, has damaged the property or has displayed anti-social behaviour and the landlord requires court intervention. Section 8 cases are few and far between, as it can be quite a ‘powerful’ way to ask someone to vacate a property” she says.
“It adds a layer of severity to an eviction that is not always necessary, especially if there is no pre-existing hostility between landlord and tenant.
“Unless the government modifies Section 8 to accommodate landlords’ circumstances as well as tenants - and streamlines the process to be more efficient and less costly - the removal of Section 21 risks discouraging landlords from investing further.
“With reduced stock comes increased rents and a market in which tenants would struggle to find the right property at an achievable price.”
And she concludes: “In isolation, the abolition of Section 21 would not be as big a deterrent as it may appear to be, so long as Section 8 is appropriately optimised or if the government introduces another solid alternative that recognises the rights of both tenants and landlords.”