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Half of landlords could sell up following the end of section 21, survey reveals

Credit – Keith Edkins

Almost half of landlords and letting agents are considering selling some of or all their rental homes if the government goes ahead with scrapping section 21 (‘no-fault’) evictions.

A survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) – which attracted record responses of over 6,500 landlords and agents – found that 46% of respondents are now planning to sell their properties.

However, the survey also indicates caution as 40% of respondents said they will wait for the government to confirm its plans before they decide on whether to provide homes for rent.

The results of the survey come after the government announced it is consulting on whether to scrap section 21 evictions, which allow landlords to evict tenants with as little as eight weeks’ notice once a fixed-term tenancy has come to an end.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: ‘Security of tenure means nothing unless the homes to rent are there in the first place.

‘With the demand for private rented housing showing no signs of slowing down it is vital that landlords are confident that they can quickly and easily get back their property in legitimate circumstances.

‘Whilst the system should clearly be fair to tenants, it needs also to support and encourage good landlords.’

Predicting widespread concern by landlords, ministers said that at the same time they would look to improve the Section 8 process, through which landlords can repossess properties on legal grounds such as anti-social behaviour.

The RLA’s survey revealed widespread discontent with that process as it currently stands, with official data showing that it takes around five months for applications to be processed.

Almost four-fifths (79%) of landlords responding to the survey said they did not consider the courts to be reliable, while a huge majority (91%) supported the establishment of a dedicated housing court.

The survey also revealed widespread support for the creation of new grounds to allow landlords to regain possession of a property, such as if they want to sell the property or if they want to let to groups like students.

Smith added: ‘Our survey shows how complex it will be to ensure that the grounds on which landlords can repossess properties are both clear and comprehensive.

‘This needs to be underpinned by a court system that is fit for purpose and properly resourced. At present it is neither.

‘It is vital that the government’s planned reforms are carefully considered to avoid finding ourselves needing to reopen this whole issue later down the line.’

Under the government’s proposed reforms, landlords will only be able to evict tenants with short notice if they have a clear legal reason to do so.

Local authorities and charities say the move will offer greater security to tenants and protect them from unfair eviction, with section 21 evictions one of the leading causes of family homelessness.

However, they have stressed that a higher number of affordable homes and extensive welfare reform will also be necessary measures if the UK wishes to tackle its rising homelessness figures.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, commented: ‘We now need to see the housing and social security systems work together to ensure that people are not swept into poverty due to the shortage of low cost rented homes.’

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter

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