A review of the section 8 possession process is urgently required, according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).
As many of you will know, an assured shorthold tenancy can be terminated principally by reliance on section 21 or section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended).
However, following the government’s call yesterday for evidence to consider the case for a housing court, the NLA believes that now is the right time to re-evaluate section 8.
For the successful possession claims, research shows that there is an average period of 18 weeks between claims and repossessions, which can cost up to £355 per claim in court fees alone.
The landlord also has to cover legal costs and may face losses when tenants are in arrears and stop paying rent.
The NLA’s latest survey of landlords reveals that it can take an average of 145 days to regain possession of a property at a cost of £5,730.
Rent arrears is the most common reason for a landlord to file a section 8 possession claim. The NLA’s landlords panel found that 36% of landlords experienced rent arrears and 15% have sought to regain possession in the last year.
The alternative to section 8 is section 21, where no reason is needed and gives tenants two months’ notice. But this can only be used after a fixed-term tenancy ends or during a periodic tenancy.
Landlords often serve both notices simultaneously as it provides greater certainty of vacant possession. This can be vital when a landlord needs to sell the property or move in themselves.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said: “As it stands, the system is failing and needs urgent reform. Landlords are forced to rely on section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, even when there is a breach in tenancy. This is essentially a sticking plaster covering the fundamental issue – that the section 8 process is no longer fit for purpose.
“While the majority of tenancies are ended by the tenant, landlords need to be confident they can regain possession of their properties efficiently in the event of a breach of tenancy to effectively manage their business risk.”