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By Paul Shamplina

Founder, Landlord Action


Shamplina Speaks - What of Section 8 after Section 21 is Abolished?

We know that Section 21 and so called ‘no fault’ evictions, are definitely going to be abolished as part of the radical re-shaping of the rental sector. The recent Queen’s Speech confirmed that the Renters’ Reform Bill legislation will be laid down over the next 12 months, and the abolition of Section 21 could happen over the next 18 months to 2 years. 

I have always said that you cannot abolish Section 21 unless you have provisions in place for landlords to get their property back from tenants who are wilfully withholding rent or causing anti-social behaviour. Thankfully for letting agents and landlords, the Government has now confirmed that there will be additional reform of landlords' grounds for possession via Section 8.  These include “strengthening repossession grounds for landlords under Section 8 when they have a valid cause.”

This is crucial for landlords, who need to have confidence in the possession process and the courts, and the reassurance that they will be able to regain possession of their property in a reasonable time, once Section 21 is abolished. Section 21 is banded about as a ‘no fault’ notice, but let’s be clear, there is always a reason why a landlord is serving a Section 21 notice. 


We are now in post-Covid times, so there will be a return to 2019 levels of possessions, and this is likely to be further impacted by landlords looking to exit the market and wanting to use Section 21 while it’s still in play. At the moment we are seeing landlords are using Section 21 because they are looking to sell. A significant number of landlords I talk to are feeling disheartened with the industry and all the increases in regulation, legislation and taxes, and are wanting to get out before the impending EPC upgrade changes come into force, and while they have the chance to cash in on high property prices.

So, how should Section 8 change to ‘compensate’ for the abolition of Section 21? Unlike a Section 21 notice, commonly referred to as ‘no fault eviction’, a Section 8 notice can only be issued if certain criteria (or ‘grounds’), are breached by the tenant. 

Currently, there are 17 grounds, of which only two are mandatory. I have been advising on the Section 8 changes that are needed, and one of these is that there need to be more mandatory grounds, where the tenant will definitely be ordered to leave if the landlord can prove breach of contract, as opposed to ‘discretionary’, where the court can decide one way or the other. 

The Government is proposing some new mandatory grounds for possession which will apply where the tenancy has been in place for two or more years. These include extending the existing ground on moving into the property and selling the property. In my view grounds for possession should also include relationship breakdown or a landlord’s head lease expiring. I also believe there should be a ground for access, as landlords struggle to gain access into their properties.

One area that is a big bugbear for landlords worried about the abolition of Section 21, is anti-social behaviour by tenants. Historically, many landlords we have acted on behalf of have used Section 21 to evict tenants causing anti-social behaviour, because it was quicker than using the Section 8 route and they just wanted to get their property back as quickly as possible.  Section 21 enabled them to regain possession, re-let their property and protect their neighbours, even if it meant that they never recouped any rental arrears. Once Section 21 is abolished, this will no longer be possible, so the changes to Section 8 must ensure that landlords dealing with this situation are able to evict quickly should they need to. Currently, if a landlord wants to gain a possession order for anti-social behaviour under Section 8, since this is a discretionary ground, they have to collect and submit evidence by way of witness statements from neighbours and other tenants in the property. This has always been difficult as they often feel threatened and intimidated by the nuisance tenants. 

As I advised civil servants who came to my offices at Landlord Action back in 2019, the Government needs to be aware of the unintended consequences of abolishing Section 21. As I’ve said, many landlords who use Section 21 do so because they just want to get their property back quickly and often, they are prepared to write off any rent arrears. When Section 21 is abolished, landlords who are pursuing tenants for possession when there are rent arrears will have no option but to use Section 8. 

Under Section 21, the tenant does not have an order granted against them if they are evicted for non-payment of rent – the landlord is asking the tenant to leave so the tenant is not considered to be at fault and is therefore not ‘intentionally making themselves homeless’, which works in the tenant’s favour when it comes to getting local authority housing. With Section 8, if there are rent arrears and an order is granted asking the tenant to leave, the tenant is considered to be at fault and there will be a money order against the tenant for the unpaid rent, which will indicate to the local authority that they have made themselves intentionally homeless because they’ve not paid the rent. This will jeopardise their chances of getting local authority housing. Despite the imminent changes, councils are still advising tenants to stay put and wait for the bailiffs to evict them so that they can get rehoused by the council. 

Currently, the main reason under Section 8 for gaining possession is obviously non-payment of rent, and the Government is considering making changes to this ground, but it remains to be seen when these changes will be made and what they will include. You can read more about their recommendations at GOV.UK.  

Not only do we need considerable changes to Section 8, but we also need to recruit more bailiffs. I’m pleased that the Government has given an undertaking to invest more than £300m in the court service to help with resourcing, but leave needs to be applied more regularly so that landlords hit with larger rent arrears have the ability to instruct a high court enforcement officer to carry out an eviction. Recently on one of our cases at Landlord Action, we had to wait five months for an eviction date. Some courts have caught up, but many still have backlogs post-Covid.

Another provision that needs to be put in place, which we believe will happen in the future, is that mediation should form part of the possession process. If a possession matter can be resolved by mediation with a tenant, for example with an instalment plan, this avoids courts and prevents more homelessness as more tenancies are sustained. But the tenant has to communicate with you to be able to mediate.

Finally, I can tell you that in 22 years of running Landlord Action, we are busier than we’ve ever been. And I predict that, with the cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills and rents, there will be many more possession cases in Q3 and Q4 this year. The abolition of Section 21 will present some challenges going forward, but the Government now has an opportunity to strengthen Section 8 and, provided they follow the advice of numerous industry leaders, including ourselves at Landlord Action, then landlords should have the protections they need. In the meantime, it is important for landlords to be more methodical with referencing than ever before, introducing guarantors and taking out rental guarantee insurance. 

* 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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    The new section 8, I have my doubts that it will be any better than the present section 8, in fact it could well be worse, so it has to now be 5* gold plated working tenants only, others need not apply

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    Andrew, their aren't any 5* gold plated working tenants.


    I don't know Edwin, I have pretty good tenants at present, mainly thanks to Vicki at Spencer Ward (agents) good selection for me.

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    A lot to do about nothing to achieve nothing. Paul everything you are looking for we had already before Shelter & Co took it away.
    So now we have post Brexit pre War situations not helping, Section 21 evictions were forced much higher in recent years making the situation far worse than it ever would have been directly because of the interference with S.21 and then the threat of removal which is now becoming a reality, those are the consequences of anti- landlord campaigners, Congratulations.
    So there was no need to remove S.21 and now having to replace it with S.8 that already existed, all be it a modified form of S8. What’s the point now another load of legislation, cost and administration to go back to the future, it existed before. How much cost upheaval, suffering, evictions and damage have those lame duck organisations caused. Surely it would have been better to ban them as they don’t provide any housing or at least remove their Charity status. Why on earth have they got the ear of the Government


    Certainly remove their charity status, that's a scam, just look at the salaries of their management, they're in business.

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    I see trouble ahead, the Gen Rent crew and others will not allow the strengthened Sec 8 to be a mirror image of S21, not a chance, it has to be weaker. If not, then what is the point of the change ? I am selling up for sure, this and the EPC nonsense has made the decision for me, good luck future tenants…. You will need it.

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    • 28 May 2022 16:47 PM

    I will only consider tenants with excellent credit score, working full time earning over £40k, no pets, that have savings over £10k, no criminal history, no ccj, 2 previous uk landlord reference and I will check that they meet all the above criteria personally. If they don't, then they can find somewhere else. I will leave my property empty rather than let parasites and lazy vermin in to live rent free.

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    Kev. my friend that excluded most of the market and probably all mine, they won’t have £10k saving’s or £40k wage’s but the vast majority are working, honest and clean which is fine by me for most part. I think if they were that well healed they won’t be renting, not wishing to take issue with you.

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    KEV- How exactly will you determine they have no criminal record? That kind of information is not readily available…. especially to landlords. I consider myself very strict but your criteria is crazy.

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    I think KEV's in the wrong business.

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    I agree with you and your list. I understand the critisism above but as more landlords exit your list will become
    More achievable.


    I had not thought of that….. god help those whom are reliant on UC then 😱


    I don't disagree Kev's list, but I do disagree the figures, a £40k income seems excessive I'm happy with a £25k income, but my rents may be cheaper than Kev's and in a cheaper part of the country

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    I agree letting Agents are very helpful and can take a lot of pressure off. The problem is the cost at a time landlords are loaded with other costs and requirements not least Licensing, Energy Performance
    Certificate’s and maintenance costs gone through the roof. To use an Agent in London the standard fee is 11% (to incl’ vat)
    for just find a Tenant Service never mind full Management if it was 5% it would be more manageable. We don’t have an open cheque book everything adds up to the point it’s not viable anymore, it seems everyone thinking along the lines that LL are all Mortgage free and it just fell into their lap. Andrew also just wondered about the Agent who made strike application.


    There is a cost of course but I think my agent gets me the full market rent which on my own I may not achieve, also the setting up of the tenancy, checking the applicants and independent inventory makes the cost worthwhile for me , also I have the advantage of being mortgage free and no licencing needed for my properties

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    Paul, we don’t need a medication service that’s the last we want, piggy in the middle we are better dealing directly with Tenants than given them someone else to strengthen their hand like the sham of a Deposit Scheme, incidentally have you such a Scheme already set up.
    Government to allocate £300m more to Court Service god help us they’ll want double that back.

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    • G W
    • 29 May 2022 09:18 AM

    I am seriously thinking of selling my portfolio as I cant see this getting any better in future with a potential Labour Government at next election......even if they don't get in, it appears Tories are not helping Landlords. I agree that they have not considered the consequences of keep battering landlords which will simply reduce available rental stock. Wont be my problem!!


    We have a Labour government in all but name now


    Grant - I have been where you are about a year ago, and I have my plan in place to sell up, it will not be for a few years and it will take a few years to sell everything , but when I retire I will be doing it stress free and cash rich. I too think we may get Labour in next and that would make the tidies seem like our best friend ! I have simply had enough and can only see it getting worse.

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    As a large HMO landlord with over 1000 tenants I can assure landlords that evicting using section 8 for rent arrears, it doesn’t matter whether it is Ground 8 (8weeks arrears) or Section 10 (any arrears ) it works. I have evicted over 350 tenants with 100% success and that is doing it myself. I have written a manual outlining how I do it and all the issues that have arisen and how to overcome them. This is not to say that the process is easy it is in my view unbelievably slow, it takes at least eight weeks to get a possession order, expensive, it costs £355 and unduly bureaucratic. Worse, though I am used to it, is the contempt that a minority of district judges have for landlords. It is unbelievable how badly some behave and there appears to be no comeback against such behaviour.

    Paul’s concerned that if section 21 is abolished tenants who are evicted will not get rehoused by the council because they may be considered intentionally homeless does not accord with my experience. The councils in my area do not care or say the rent was unaffordable. If a landlord charges any more than universal credit rates then as far as the council is concerned the rent was unaffordable and the tenant did not have to pay ANY rent. Also the councils are not stupid, if they were concerned about intentional homelessness they would ask the previous landlord who evicted using Section 21 for a copy of the tenant’s rent account. They council do not in my experience ever ask for the tenants rent account.

    In the last 12 months I have found an amazing change and I am evicting far fewer tenants. I put this down to mainly to Sandwell MBC introducing ‘call before you serve’ (CB4YS) , a mediation service where the council try and resolve issues between tenants and landlords. It works brilliantly. When it was introduced I sent six tenants to them who I was evicting. Two tenants immediately left saying they did not wish to deal with the council, three started to pay and one was rehoused by the council. Also two of my local councils when I send a tenant to them with a section 8 notice will pay off the arrears!

    The final thing I find makes a change is that we have started to to apply for money claims online (MCOL) instead or as well as using section 8. Threatening to sue the tenant seems to have more effect than threatening to evict! Whether it is because we have copied debt collectors and written in red on the letter before action that if the money claim is successful the tenant will end up with a CCJ and may have difficulty in getting employment, I’m not sure, all I can say is it works. Many tenants either leave or start paying upon receipt of the letter before action. It has been so successful we haven’t ever had to resort to issuing a MCOL.

    All that I believe is needed is for councils to stop telling tenants not to pay the rent, wait until the bailiffs evicts them and then the council will then re-house the tenant. This one thing I believe this will decimate the need to evict tenants. Appreciate that councils are in direct competition with the private sector. They want more social housing and therefore tenants. Landlords put yourself in the tenants position. If you were given this advice what would you do when offered a lovely council house which you could buy at a massive discount, you only need to stop paying your rapacious landlord!

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy


    The first time I went for a CCJ was in the late 70s a guy who worked on the rigs wouldn't pay me for a service on his Stag, long story short I won the case bailiffs couldn't find him until late one Sunday night I spotted his car RVF777J followed it and let the bailiffs know where it was Monday morning, they picked it up, straight into auction, I got my money and he lost his car, word soon gets about when you stand up to a debtor, money claim online is dead easy to do and cheap, do it as a matter of princible


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