Possessions are down but will Government move on Section 21?
Apparently we can expect another ‘Christmas Truce’ on bailiff-enforced evictions over the holiday period. No one should find themselves homeless, particularly at Christmas, so it is encouraging to see that the number of possessions is down on this time two years ago.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice, published last week, fly in the face of the doom mongers from rent campaign groups who throughout the pandemic warned of a huge increase in possessions once the Covid-19 evictions ban was lifted.
In fact, that prediction has turned out to be a new kind of ‘project fear’. According to Letting Agent Today, MoJ data shows a “dramatic long-term decline in the number of possessions in the private rental sector”. Figures have been falling for a number of years and the suggestion is that this is because landlords and letting agents have been working hard to negotiate payment arrangements to help renters in arrears and have kept talking to their tenants – as we ourselves strongly advised during the worst of the pandemic.
So good news then. But will the Government look at these statistics and reconsider whether there really is a strong requirement to include scrapping of Section 21 evictions in the long-awaited Renters' Reform Bill?
Somehow we doubt that will be the case, regardless of the fact that it is a really useful tool for landlords struggling with problem tenants. This is particularly the case for those renting out HMOs where one difficult housemate can make life unbearable for the others. Having a ‘no-fault’ eviction option in those circumstances makes it easier to move someone on, with the least possible fuss and disruption for other residents.
Our best guess is that, regardless of any evidence that this move is justified, Westminster will follow the Scottish Parliament and ditch Section 21 in the face of heavy criticism of the process from campaign groups like Shelter and Generation Rent, and the Labour Party. By taking the wind out of the Opposition’s sails on this, the Government clearly hopes to win over the tenant vote. However by doing so they are likely to alienate a whole other group of voters – PRS Landlords.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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