The latest English Private Landlord Survey has shed new light on how landlords repossess their properties from tenants – and on the potential consequences of scrapping Section 21 “no-fault” evictions.
The survey shows that Section 21 is by far the most common way in which landlords recover properties from tenants. Of those landlords who evicted a tenant or asked one to leave in 2021, 67% did so using a Section 21 notice. Meanwhile, 25% opted for a Section 8 notice, which can only be used when certain grounds for possession apply, such as rent arrears or damage to the property. The survey also found that 27% had asked tenants to leave without a formal eviction notice.
It's the first time the English Private Landlord Survey has looked into the eviction options exercised by landlords so closely. On a related note, evictions have become less common in general: the previous survey (2018) found that 7% of ending tenancies ended in eviction, and a further 4% because the landlord decided not to renew. In 2021, those figures were 3% and 3% respectively.
The 2021 survey also shows that many of the landlords who used Section 21 didn’t necessarily need to. Where landlords chose to end a tenancy, 46% did so because of rent arrears, 39% because the tenant has damaged the property, 32% because of anti-social behaviour by the tenant, and 25% because the owner wanted to sell the property – all of which are valid grounds for possession under the lengthier, court-sanctioned eviction process prescribed by Section 8.
However, industry commentators warn that landlords and agents have lost faith in the courts to deliver timely evictions. While the government says things have improved since lockdown, landlords report lengthy court backlogs and long waits for bailiff enforcement.
Meanwhile, with Section 21 evictions set to be scrapped in the upcoming Renters' Reform Bill, landlords are preparing for the worst. Industry figures have warned of a surge in Section 21 evictions as landlords remove tenants to sell their properties. Others are finding ways to circumvent the formal eviction process: the 2021 English Private Landlord Survey found that 5% of landlords removing a tenant had paid them to leave.
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