Landlords warn of dangers in housing reform

Landlords warn of dangers in housing reform

The planned reforms to rental housing pose a danger to tenants if not carried out properly, according to landlords.

The government is today (April 15) expected to propose a consultation on abolishing the so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 notices which give landlords the power to evict tenants at the end of their tenancy without a reason.

It is hoped the change will protect renters from ‘unethical’ landlords and provide them with long-term security. Under the current laws, those renting can be kicked out with only eight weeks' notice without a reason.

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But landlords have warned there are dangers if the reforms are not carried out correctly.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: "While the RLA recognises the pressure being placed on government for change, there are serious dangers of getting such reforms wrong.

"With the demand for private rented homes continuing to increase, we need the majority of good landlords to have confidence to invest in new homes. 

"This means ensuring they can swiftly repossess properties for legitimate reasons such as rent arrears, tenant anti-social behaviour or wanting to sell them. This needs to happen before any moves are made to end Section 21."

Mr Smith added any greater security for tenants would mean little if the homes to rent were not there in the first place.

According to the RLA demand for rental homes currently outstrips supply, especially where vulnerable tenants are concerned.

The association warned the government risked exacerbating the problem if it did not ensure landlords had complete confidence they could repossess properties swiftly for legitimate reasons.

Data from the government shows it takes more than five months from a private landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening, according to the RLA.

Research by Manchester Metropolitan University for the RLA found that in a majority of cases where tenants are asked to leave their properties under Section 21 notices there were reasons. 

Half of the notices were used where tenants had rent arrears, were committing anti-social behaviour or damage to the property. 

Other common reasons included the landlord needing to take back possession of a property for sale or refurbishment. 

The RLA will consult the landlord community to establish what measures would be needed to ensure they have confidence in the system before efforts are made to end Section 21 repossessions.

But according to the BBC, housing secretary James Brokenshire called the proposals "the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation" and said the government was taking action because evidence showed so-called Section 21 evictions were one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.

He said: "By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves — not have it made for them."