Email to Karen Buck MP re S21 Debate

by Readers Question

13:52 PM, 16th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Email to Karen Buck MP re S21 Debate

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Email to Karen Buck MP re S21 Debate

Karen Buck, whose Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill is set to become law, has a backbench debate on ‘S21 and how to improve security for tenants’ on 6th December. I asked her on twitter to take into account the views of landlords as well as tenants. Her reply was ‘I am quite willing to hear other arguments. I may not agree but let’s talk.’

So, I’m going to respond by email with some information about why an outright ban on S21 would be a disaster for landlords and tenants alike.

Scotland has, of course, already abolished S21 and put this in its place: Click here

Given the inevitability of the demise of S21 in England and the likelihood of the Scottish model being adopted, do you feel the Scottish model is a reasonable alternative? If not, why not? And what important amendments would you make?

I want to include views of landlord colleagues as well as my own.

If you would like to comment directly to Karen Buck, her email is BUCKK@parliament.uk

Many thanks

Ann



Comments

Annie Landlord

10:13 AM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Also, should have said if you know of any different, better systems of repossession, maybe in other countries, please share.
There are some campaign groups out there, who are more radical than the Generation Rent variety, who advocate compulsory purchase of landlords' properties at Right To Buy discounts, to hand over to tenants. Sounds too radical? Maybe, but we need to be involved the the debate over ending S21 any way we can.

AJ

11:53 AM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

The problem as I see it, is we use S21 instead of an S8 as it is easier and quicker to get the tenant out, this gives skewed figures on S21. The S8 needs to be amend to ensure the Tenant is removed regardless of if they catch up or stay just under 2 months behind.
One solutions is the government repay lost rent, damage and eviction costs to the landlord and then reclaim them over a maximum period of five years from the tenants salary and or benefits.

Appalled Landlord

12:12 PM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Hi Annie

I was puzzled as to how ground 17 - three months of rent arrears - could be both mandatory and discretionary, so I found another source that was updated in May 2018 https://www.mygov.scot/private-tenant-eviction/grounds-for-eviction-assured-and-short-assured-tenancies/

This calls arrears ground 8. It says that three months of rent arrears is a mandatory ground, unless they are due to a delay in housing benefit. So a delay in HB becomes the landlord’s problem. He cannot get the tenant out, unlike social landlords in England and Wales who are evicting because of delays in UC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bs39ky

It also tells tenants how to frustrate the process by paying some of the arrears before the hearing.

“8. Three months' rent arrears
(two weeks' notice)
If you have three months or more of rent arrears (unpaid rent), your landlord can ask the Tribunal to evict you.
If you still have three months of arrears on the day you go to court, the Tribunal automatically has to order to have you evicted, unless you can prove that the debt is due to a delay in your housing benefit being paid.
If you can reduce your rent arrears to less than three months by the time you go to the Tribunal, it doesn't have to evict you and can decide not to if they think you're trying to clear the debt.”

Shelter Scotland has yet another number for it.
https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/eviction/eviction_of_private_tenants/grounds_for_eviction_for_private_residential_tenancy_tenants

This does not just refer to delay in HB, it says “the arrears are not wholly or partly due to delay or failure of payment of relevant benefit.” This implies that if the tenant is sanctioned (at up to 100%) for being late for an appointment at the Job Centre, the HB will fail to be paid in whole or in part, meaning that eviction will not be mandatory.

“Ground 12: Rent arrears
A mandatory ground. If there have been arrears for at least three consecutive months and at least one month’s rent in total is owed on the day of the hearing. [3 months per mygov.scot]
It is discretionary ground if less than one month’s rent in total is owed.
The tribunal must (when used as a mandatory ground) make an order for eviction where:
On the day the tribunal considers the case:
the tenant is in arrears equivalent to an amount equal to or greater than 1 month rent amount, and
has been in arrears of any amount for a continuous period of up to 3 or more consecutive months, and
the arrears are not wholly or partly due to delay or failure of payment of relevant benefit.
The tribunal may (when used as a discretionary ground) make an order for eviction where:
the tenant has been in arrears of any amount for a continuous period of up to three or more consecutive months, and
It is reasonable to evict on account of this fact.
It is not mandatory for the tribunal to make an eviction order if the rent arrears are due to any delay or failure in payment of rent caused by problems with relevant benefit payments.”

It seems to me that if S 21 is abolished and the Scottish system is introduced in England and Wales, it will be another reason to avoid letting to benefit claimants.

Shelter Scotland has another webpage about arrears. It says 3 months’ rent must be outstanding on the day of the hearing but advises tenants to pay a bit off beforehand so the “sheriff doesn't have to evict you”

"8. Three months' rent arrears
(two weeks' notice required)
The landlord can use this ground if you had three months' or more rent unpaid on the day that you were served with the notice of proceedings.
If your case goes to court there must still be at least three months' rent arrears outstanding. Therefore, if your landlord is using this ground, it's a good idea to try and reduce your rent arrears to less than three months' worth before you case goes to court. If your have less than three months' arrears, the sheriff doesn't have to evict you, they can chose not to if they decide this is reasonable.”

Michael Barnes

12:47 PM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

S21 "improvements" (aka restricting when it can be used, or abolishing it altogether) for good tenants need to be balanced by improved protections for LLs against bad tenants.

I do not have a problem with S21 going if S8 is improved.
I think S21 restrictions will come regardless of what LLs say, so we should use these opportunities to identify how the system can be improved to protect LLs from bad tenants as well as protecting tenants from bad LLs.
Just saying "bad for LLs" will not be taken seriously; showing that we are proposing improvements is more likely to be considered.

1. time taken for court processes under S8 need to be greatly improved
a) time to get a hearing;
b) LL should be able to go straight to enforcement of an order immediately it expires, not return to court.

2. New S8 grounds needed, including:
a) Selling property.
b) Abandonment.

3. Disrepair (and probably others) should not be a defence to S8 (especially G8) unless it was notified to LL in writing before S8 was issued and notified to court before the hearing.

4. Court sanctions on tenants who raise spurious defences to get a delay in a hearing or court order.

Luke P

13:00 PM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Does anyone know the pre-action protocol lenders must follow before undertaking a repossession? If there’s a set procedure (when it comes to arrears, anyway) that is deemed adequate enough to take back someone’s own home, then surely this should suffice for tenants of rented property too. Perhaps an agreement to pause any additional interest and agree a payment plan, but break that and it’s game over.

Luke P

13:02 PM, 17th November 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 17/11/2018 - 13:00
On a separate note, if we loses S.21 and it’s mandatory Possession, I will begin to exit the industry and become exceptionally choosy about who is able to rent from me.

MoodyMolls

9:28 AM, 18th November 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by AJ at 17/11/2018 - 11:53
Yes we lose thousands to tenants who once served an eviction notice stop paying rent completely and generally start mistreating the property and you are left with skip loads of rubbish .
Until this government start making tenants pay for such behaviour it will continue.
Regarding trying to get the monies owed once they have been evicted is near on impossible.
They job hop or change addresses.
When a NI number is known then it should be straight forward for HMRC to do an attachment with employers if a court order is in place.
Instead tenants play the system and the landlord is left with losses in the thousands.
Nobody will admit the crap tenants but speak with the bailiffs the tradesmen etc and the evidence is everywhere.

They want a good PRS then they need to address both sides .

They need to instil pride and accountability back into people instead they encourage and reward scum tenants with social housing etc.
On longer tenancies then tenants should be required to give 2 months notice.

I use both section8 and section21 and most times they have been told to remain until bailiffs by C advice and council.
If they are on benefits then they are very unlikely to be rehoused in the PRS so have no hope of finding another tenancy. If they have trashed and stopped paying rent why should they be housed?
Section21 is needed and should remain , section8 needs speeding up and scum tenants should be named and shamed and refused a house until they have paid .
For social housing all they have to do is a token payment of £5 pcm for six months and they get a house. They could have caused 12000 worth of damage.

Annie Landlord

11:00 AM, 18th November 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Appalled Landlord at 17/11/2018 - 12:12
Thank you AL for checking the link. I have had the 'new' Scottish arrangements on my laptop since they were introduced. I should have checked for updates before posting the link, so thank you for that. As you say, the '3 months' arrears grounds just discourages more landlords from offering tenancies to benefit claimants and reduces choice for those tenants.

Annie Landlord

11:06 AM, 18th November 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 17/11/2018 - 12:47
Yes Michael, I would agree with all of that. I am being pragmatic - I am pretty sure that S21 in its current form will go. The government is, after all, facing the possibility of an early General Election so will be looking at manifesto promises to appeal to a multitude of non traditional Tory voters - like millions of renters.

Annie Landlord

11:11 AM, 18th November 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 17/11/2018 - 13:02
Good question. As BTL mortgages remain unregulated I thought the procedures to repossess were down to the individual lender. I think many landlords are seeing the possible demise of S21 as the straw that will break the camel's back.

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