30% rise in section 21 possession claims reported

Landlord Action says tackling ‘retaliatory eviction’ needs more resource to guarantee accuracy.

Landlord Action’s latest figures show a 30% rise in claims for possession under Section 21 over the last six months, raising concerns that Government plans to tackle ‘retaliatory eviction’ will require greater resource if it is to find a fair solution for both landlords and tenants. 

Applying pressure to rid the market of rogue landlords who exploit tenants is imperative. In principle, Landlord Action fully supports plans to stop ‘retaliatory eviction’, acknowledging that as a firm, they too have experienced a minority of landlords who would prefer to evict a tenant complaining of disrepair to a property, via a Section 21 (S21) notice, rather than carry out the necessary work.

However, Founder of Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina, has two main concerns:

Firstly, he believes the complexities with determining what is deemed ‘reasonable repair’ will require consideration on a case by case basis to avoid landlords’ possession claims being unnecessarily thrown out.

“We deal with hundreds of possession cases every year and the causes are rarely black and white” comments Shamplina.

He argues that whilst there are a handful of rogue landlords, there are also some tenants who don’t pay rent for months on end and then use previously unreported ‘disrepair’ issues to string out a court case. Then there are the more ambiguous cases; perhaps an amateur landlord who can’t afford the repairs if the tenant doesn’t pay the rent, or a tenant that simply can’t afford the rent, in which case a S21 writes off arrears but hands possession back to the landlord.

Taking this into account, coupled with possession claims across the UK hitting a 9 year high , Shamplina questions whether the Government has set aside enough resource to tackle this.  “Environmental Health Officers are already overloaded without the added strain of investigating properties reported under ‘Retaliation Eviction – S21’. Even if they do have the resources, what is deemed reasonable or unreasonable in respect to work carried out and will it be the council’s final word?”

Landlord Action is calling for there to be very clear guidance on how tackling ‘retaliatory eviction’ will be put into practice, so that neither landlord nor tenant can abuse the system. “Yes, we want standards to be raised and tenants to live in acceptable properties, but we don’t want reputable landlords, the majority of whom do carry out repairs, to suffer in the process” concludes Paul.

Article courtesy of Property Reporter

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