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Shamplina Speaks - A step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough

Recently the government once again committed to banning 'no-fault' evictions, with the new government housing minister Rachel Maclean promising the ban on Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions would become law by Autumn. 

Whilst Maclean insisted that good ‘landlords have nothing to fear’, noting that a balance must be struck between renters’ rights and landlords, she dismissed concerns that such regulation would decrease ‘confidence in the sector’ and see droves of landlords exiting the market. 

I’ve spoken at length about the unintended consequences of abolishing Section 21 which includes, but is not limited to; vulnerable tenants struggling to find accommodation as landlords become more selective; a surge in Section 21 claims as landlords feel increasingly powerless and opt to exit the market, a shrinking private rented sector resulting in further rent rises for tenants and a rise in homelessness. 

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One other big issue with the scrapping of Section 21, which I’ve also previously flagged, is anti-social behaviour. Without tougher action, unruly tenants would be able remain in properties for longer causing landlords, their neighbours and local communities, as well as other tenants in HMOs, untold stress. 

Fortunately, there has been some positive progress recently, as the Prime Minister launched the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, which will strengthen landlords’ ability to evict ‘unruly’ tenants, in particular those involved in anti-social behaviour. 

Landlords are to be given new powers to evict problematic tenants with two weeks’ notice under government proposals to address antisocial behaviour. This would include tenants who use drugs, play excessively loud music, cause damage to a property or fall into rent arrears.

All new private tenancy agreements will have to include clauses that specifically ban antisocial behaviour – and the notice period for eviction on these grounds will be cut from four weeks to a fortnight. Although – to me, this is a headline grabber.  Antisocial behaviour grounds for possession already exist, landlords can already start proceedings as soon as they have served notice, under ground 14 of Section 8, but it’s a discretionary ground.  We rarely have cases like this at Landlord Action because landlords believe its weak

Where the tenancy is a contractual periodic or statutory periodic tenancy, the notice must end on the last day of a tenancy period. What makes these plans different?

It is, however, an important step in giving landlords some confidence that they will not be powerless to evict troublesome tenants. In our survey back in August, a fifth of landlords had issued a Section 21 notice because of anti-social behaviour.

Anti-social behaviour and damages are contentious issues and notoriously difficult to prove.  Pursuing eviction on these grounds via Section 8 as far as the courts, relies heavily on evidence.  It is usually only considered worthwhile if the tenancy has a long period left to run and there are consistent complaints. 

That is why, historically, landlords have used a Section 21 no-fault eviction to remove tenants causing anti-social behaviour. Going forward, when Section 21 no longer exists, landlords need to know that if they have a nightmare tenant, they will have the power to remove them. 

So, whilst I welcome anything which gives landlords that reassurance that robust enforcement measures will be available to them in this instance, there are also several other issues which need to be addressed for this to be effective. Most importantly, having dedicated housing courts needs to be put firmly back on the agenda, with special ABS hearing lists where judges grant possession orders on mandatory grounds, not discretionary as they are at present. 

One caveat, however, is that when going to court, the landlord has to plead their case with evidence. The issue will remain of what evidence the landlord has that can be relied on? Relying on neighbours or co-tenants has always been difficult as they often do not want to be involved for fear of intimidation and violence. Local authorities will also have to play their part in supporting landlords. These new measures ,which the Government suggests will give landlords more power, can only be dealt with a priority listing and quicker hearing date from the normal possession list.  Let’s remember, there’s going to be many many more hearings when section 21 is abolished.   We will need more judges and a simplified process, possibly looking at remote hearings. 

This then leads to further issues linked the housing crisis. Where does an evicted ASB tenant move to when there is a housing crisis and local authorities are already stretched to capacity? I don’t feel this has been considered widely enough. 

Many landlords used Section 21 when there were rent arrears because there was no money order on the court order, so a tenant could go to the council at the eviction date and ask to be rehoused. When Section 21 is removed, there will be significantly more Section 8 rent arrears cases, and those tenants won’t be able to be rehoused, because we have a social housing crisis. 

We have already seen accelerated Section 21 cases jump to the highest since 2017. Unfortunately, I predict there will be further panic if landlords don’t have faith in the court system.  Landlords will want to serve a Section 21 so that they have the flexibility to serve a court order within 6 months. The result? More good tenants will be asked to leave properties and landlords will intensify their referencing when finding new tenants to ensure they have greater confidence in who they let to. 

The Government is pressing ahead, but in my opinion there is still not enough consideration on how the reforms will work in practice and not enough changes are in place in the courts, the social housing system, the eviction process etc. to cope with the unintended consequences of such drastic action. Read more about how the proposed scrapping of Section 21 will affect landlords in Total Landlord’s article, which features videos of me explaining more about the steps to take if you are affected by rent arrears and what the likely time frame will be until Section 21 is abolished. 

* Paul Shamplina is founder of Landlord Action, Chief Commercial Officer at Hamilton Fraser, and is on Channel 5's 'Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords' * 

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    Always seems to sit on the fence this guy with his wishy washy statements. Is it not about time, someone grabbed this whole situation by the the horns to provide a more even playing field for Landlords.

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    Good landlords with good tenants have nothing to fear, however good landlords with rogue tenants have a great deal to fear, thousands in fees and the best part of a year to get a court hearing, and that's before you send the bailiffs in, no small wonder that we are having to be very selective with new tenants.

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    Shamplina is making a fortune as are the same voices I hear representing landlords, the two faced Ben Beadle and the other one with forked tongue Eddie hooker
    These people have somehow managed to be the go to for opinions on landlords but they aren’t
    Personally I want to keep section 21 and I want to make evictions easier and I don’t care how tenants feel- they aren’t the ones taking all the risks. I have no issues with safety regulations but apart from that I don’t see why it should be a level playing field. We have a product that people want to buy
    If the government want to make housing better for everyone then bloody build your own and keep their dirty little fingers off our property

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    Surely there’s no need to evict a tenant and use a section 21 unless- ASB- vandalism to property- Rent Arrears. Or u wish to sell the property. So keep it just in case

     
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    I thought it was an ok critique of where we are and the issues we are likely to find. I have said in many posts over the past months…. EVIDENCE! I work in a job where without it, nothing gets done, it’s that simple. The government can bring all the headline grabbing guff they want, without real evidence to put before the judge no tenant will be evicted for ASB. and in my not so short career neighbours and others do not want to give a statement, like never, they know the hell they will have to live with after. The lose of s21 is a disaster 🆘

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    Another New Woman on the job that should solve everything. Removing S.21 shouldn’t lead to a decrease in private landlords, where has she been and who has she been talking and listening to ? not Shelter or people on benefits I hope.
    Why not have a landlord Survey instead of the usual Surveys asking non owners.
    She is blind to the fact thousands of landlords have exited already and that’s just from the threat of removing S.21 and she still think it won’t decrease the numbers.
    How did she get this job its
    well time we had some real people from the Industry that have worked and lived it, not University graduates with there brains turned into jelly.
    It’s been well established S.21 is the very foundation of all Private letting before which there was not any.
    It’s also been proven that Private Landlords has neither over used or abused S.21.
    Who ever know S.21 to be an easy option, it takes month’s & costs thousands in both costs and letting income lost, apart the fact it had already been weakened and under mined by the 2015 De-Regulation Act so we are not even allowed the remaining remnants.
    Furthermore its the local Authorities that is the prime mover behind getting rid of S.21 (landlords only scapegoat’s) they don’t want people who abused S.21 turning up at Civic Centre's with a smile on their faces to be virtually guaranteed free Housing.
    Rachel dearest can you absorb all that and factor it in.

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    I read all these posts and articles out of curiosity... I'm actually beyond caring what the government does to destroy landlords any more as I've had enough of the BS and have made my decision to get out and sell my portfolio whilst I still can. Fair play to the brave souls who want to stay in the game but I'm out. 👍

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    Shane, its not only brave souls but the rest of us held to ransom, no exit plan allowed.
    Amongst the huge number of anti-landlords legislation and rules in recent years which included removal of indexation or taper relief before as I understood it, when you were long term you were allowed an amount of inflation relief by that was removed too.
    OK you can exit pay 28% then pay another 40% IHT.
    We are held under duress, not even allowed to give it to family members but we could leave it to the most hated charity on earth, it would be completely acceptable.

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    I agreee Michael and having considered all of that I'm still selling up and will invest in something else with what's left My gut tells me to get out whilst I still can and take the hit. I foresee a situation down the line where half or more landlords have gotten out of the game so there are less PRS available, councils not building enough properties to cope with the ever increasing demand.. .... What will happen then? Possibly compulsory purchasing of your property at a price THEY deem fair, or maybe they'll just take your property anyway... Anything is possible and nothing would surprise me any more... Or a total ban on evictions EVER? I've not been in the game as long as some of you, but in the 25 years or so that I have been, all I've seen is the situation getting steadily worse and worse... Already in Scotland we have bans on evictions, limits and bans on rent increases..., having to apply for a licence if you decide to go down the short term letting avenue... They have every corner covered... Im not staying/investing in a business where I give control of it over to others to run how they deem fit, or one where I'm taxed unfairly and differently to other businesses, having to jump throughly hoops on some ignorant tw*ts decision..... I truly wish everyone well who's going to crack on and see what happens but I've made my decision based on my gut and I'm getting out. Shane has left the building... 👍

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    I think Shane is right. Ending our letting businesses may be the only way forward. There may well be no alternative. Obviously, having sitting tenants is not an option for the majority of landlords.

    However, I don't think that the new legislation will be law before the autumn; they may bring the Bill forward before Autumn. That is not the same thing. It will take longer for it to be in force. We should have time to sell up!

     
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    In Scotland since 2017, when mutually agreed fixed term tenancies were outlawed, students have miraculously become the most preferred groups of tenants as they won't stay indefinitely.

    However, this year, because of the massive shortage of PRS properties, many have not yet confirmed their plans to leave and seem to be waiting to see where they get jobs after graduating. This is preventing new groups from making plans for next year and also preventing me from putting the rents up to current market rates because of the current 3% rent cap (or 6% if I can prove my costs have gone up by double the proposed rent increases).

    I can't do anything about confirming new tenancy agreements, scheduling refurbishment work or even plan my own summer holidays until these underpaying kids get their acts together.

    I have indicated that they may well need a Landlord reference if they move to another city after graduating and their ability to cooperate and plan ahead (or otherwise) would be something that new Landlords would be interested in.

    One of my mates who has still managed to have summer tourist lets and winter student lets in Edinburgh has also found this time much more difficult to get students to give notice and is moving some more flats to full time short rental properties because he's had enough of the lack of co-operation and forward planning from his current student tenants. Of course this means even fewer long term rental properties available putting even more pressure on the PRS.

    Abolishing Section 21 does NO ONE any favours but the zealots put their dogma above the interests of tenants who are sleep walking into a nightmare.

     
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    Well put Shane, I'm leaving this market also, with the exception of 3 tenants that I have been in partnership for many years and I do not foresee them giving me any issues in the future.
    I've sold 2, that leaves 4 to go. Hope to start selling these towards the end of this year, the CGT allowance is now no longer a consideration so I will move as fast as I can, currently re-furbing one now and once I've got the non payer out f the Norwich house will focus on that one.
    No point me getting bitter and twisted over this and the nexts's government fiasco.
    I'm happy with my decision and will have good equity from selling despite the 28% CGT.
    I do believe if Labour get in it will be 40% CGT and I just hope that the Tories don't decide to do this in one of their next budgets.
    I will pay down the three houses I'm keeping and then hopefully give up my day job, not the future I had planned all those years ago and I had hoped to be able to give my kids a better foot up in life.
    It's unfair and it is wrong, the article by Dr Peter Marshall was excellent, but the simple fact is nothing is going to change.

     
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    Whatever Rachel Maclean claims I have no doubt LLs are selling. I recently put a small house in Norfolk on the market for rent. Of the 40 or so applications a good % Of applicants told me their LL was selling. I even had a sad enquiry from a family asking if I had a bigger property to rent available as their Landlord of almost 15 years was selling, there was nothing else to rent locally and they were heartbroken at being forced out of the community where they lived and their children had grown up in. If a Norfolk LL is reading this and has a house mon 3 beds in south Norf/Brecks I can pass their details on. Well done Mr Gove!

    I am making a point of telling every single applicant I turn down that the govt is entirely responsible and why. I also tell them that when Renters reform is introduced it will get even harder.

    The loss of S21 also influenced my choice of tenant.and I actively prioritise applicants I know will move on within 2 or 3 years because I am really concerned about a lack of rights to my properties. .

    I am also seeing older people applying as they are losing their long term homes and unable to find another affordable rental so sofa surfing with relatives in retirement homes. I kid you not!

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    They all had affordable Renting in the main until Mr Gove poked his nose in.
    What a whopper of a lie telling Tenants he is making Renting fairer for them, in reality he is making them homeless.

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    Along with Osbourne's section 24.

     
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    I'm really puzzled by the furor of no-fault evictions!

    If a tenant is looking after a property, not being a nuisance to neighbours and paying rent on time why would a landlord evict? Is there such a huge problem of landlords being idiots and evicting good paying tenants?

    I understand the problem of increasing the rent and the law is pretty lame with landlords who don't keep on top of increases, which is hugely ironic. Landlords who don't keep rent increase in line with other properties face the problem of a larger rise that the tenant can appeal against despite it being in line with other properties, and you're into a lottery with a rent review!

  • Matthew Payne

    The whole idea needs beta testing for a couple of years in a particular location or three with financial remedy available for the inevitable fallout for both landlords and tenants so government can see how the changes affect behaviour, many of which are predictable but perhaps others perhaps not. As with most pieces of recent legislation, none of those consequences ever seem to get considered by government though, even the bleedin obvious ones eg: cap deposits = no large pets. In this instance though, getting it wrong will ruin peoples lives increasing homelessness, inflating rents, destroying pension provisions, and lots and lots of unecessary stress and hard work for everyone. If its the right thing to do after that exercise, we should embrace it, but more haste and less speed is the order of the day. The decision needs to be genuinely motivated by whats best for stakeholders, not whats going to win some short term Labour voting tenants over in the run up to the GE next year.

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