Over 40% of tenant evictions are carried out using Section 21 – where landlords don’t need to provide a reason for the eviction, Ministry of Justice statistics reveal.
There were 39,067 tenants evicted by bailiffs last year of which 15,747 were carried out under Section 21, which is opposed by lobby group Generation Rent due to its lack of transparency.
Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent director, said: “Because the landlord doesn’t need to give a reason for eviction, tenants have no defence against it, and many times more tenants will leave before the courts, let alone the bailiffs, get involved. Unfortunately the government doesn’t record the true scale of these evictions.
“By requiring landlords to give a reason for taking back a property, and compensating tenants who aren’t at fault, the government could discourage abuse of the system, give renters greater stability and offer a safety net to unlucky tenants.”
However David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association and solicitor at Anthony Gold Solicitors, said most landlords only take out Section 21s because it’s cheaper and easier rather than because they don’t have a cause.
The alternative of a Section 8, where there has to be cause for an eviction, can be more expensive and time consuming.
Smith explained: “Section 21 leads to a different court procedure called accelerated possession procedure that doesn’t require court hearings.
“It’s just forms; it’s easier for landlords without a lawyer and it sounds quicker, although that isn’t always the case.
“A lot of landlords are using Section 21 when they have cause but it’s cheaper and easier to use than Section 8.
“People say Section 21 is possession without cause but that doesn’t mean it is without cause.”
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action eviction service, who appears on the Channel 5 programme Nightmare Tenants, Slum
Landlords, warned that if Section 21 was scrapped landlords would leave the market in droves.
He said: “Yes the government wants to encourage landlords to have longer tenancies with tenants having more security.
“But you’ve got to realise that 90% of landlords have one or two properties and their circumstances change a lot.
“A lot of landlords don’t want to go down the Section 8 notice because they want to write off the rental arrears, as they know they are not going to get it from the tenant.
“If Section 21 was abolished and you were stuck with that tenant then you would have a lot of landlords exiting the marketplace.”
In the wake of the banning of letting agency fees property analyst Kate Faulkner wants things to calm down in the lettings market.
She said: “We do not need and we cannot cope with any more legal changes in the private rented sector.
“They are coming so thick and fast there is no time for tenants and landlords to get used to them before in comes to the next one.”