“Currently the vast majority of tenancies end because the tenant chooses to leave, not because the landlord is evicting. Landlords want tenants to stay in their property long term, and only serve notice as a last resort” says Shamplina.
“The majority of Section 21 notices are issued because a tenant is in rent arrears, or because a landlord wishes to sell or move back into their property. In many cases, landlords could have used Section 8 for rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, but their lack of faith in the associated court process, which is undoubtedly more protracted, is why many always revert to Section 21.”
He adds: “Therefore, abolishing Section 21 will not significantly change the number of evictions, it will simply change the process, which may have knock-on consequences for the number of open court cases and the associated costs for which the tenant will be liable.”.
Shamplina argues that the Section 8 notice and associated grounds will become the norm with landlords who previously wrote off arrears and used Section 21 will potentially now seek those arrears via Section 8, to the disadvantage of the tenant.
“There are various aspects of Section 8 that need considerable revision before Section 21 can be fully abolished. I believe it will need to be a phased ending to allow the courts time to clear the backlog from the last two years and for all grounds to be considered and revised appropriately,” he believes.
“For example, the route for dealing with abandonment cases must be clarified, to prevent unnecessary court cases where the tenant has clearly already left the property.”
Meanwhile Cobbold, managing director of automated payment service PayProp UK, says PropTech has a key role to play in transitioning to a lettings market without Section 21.
Agents and landlords have an opportunity to upgrade their technology given the likely timescale of Section 21 changes - a White Paper, consultation and then legislation mean that change may be well over a year away.
“Reforming evictions is going to cause some upheaval and there will be a significant bedding-in period. That’s why it’s vitally important that agents have their evidence-gathering and record-keeping processes in place, so they can move as seamlessly as possible from the old way to the new, in which agents and landlords will likely have to rely on a beefed-up version of Section 8.”
He continues: “Comprehensive, automatically generated reporting based on live transactional information can make a real difference when it comes to providing the relevant evidence when eviction is necessary.
“The burden of proof for agents is going to be higher once Section 21 is abandoned. Having to demonstrate proof of arrears, for example, speaks to the need for robust record keeping and evidence gathering tools.”
The government also plans to reduce the number of cases making it to the courts by bringing in a new ombudsman for private rented sector landlords, helping to ensure disputes can be easily resolved without legal recourse.
Cobbold says using technology to create an automated record of payments, communications with tenants and other lettings processes will help landlords and agents to provide evidence of their good conduct when referred to the new ombudsman by tenants.
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