Shelter CEO is also confused about no-fault evictions

by Appalled Landlord

9:11 AM, 5th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Shelter CEO is also confused about no-fault evictions

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Shelter CEO is also confused about no-fault evictions

As I mentioned previously, Polly Neate appeared about 5 and a half minutes into the Tonight programme last week called Britain’s Property Crisis. Click Here to view

Polly said “These so-called Section 21 evictions, or no-fault evictions, meaning no fault on behalf of the tenant, are actually the single biggest cause of homelessness in the country now.”

Oh dear Polly, there was so much wrong in such a short sound-bite.

Firstly, Section 21 is not so-called.  Section 21 is the correct appellation.

Secondly, “so-called” should be applied to the description “no-fault”, because the latter has been twisted into implying that if S 21 was used the tenant cannot have been at fault, as you claimed in that sentence.  S 21 was given that (unfortunately ambiguous) description because – unlike the alternative, Section 8 – there is no requirement to prove to a judge that there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement in the form of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.

Thirdly, to say that S21 evictions are the single biggest cause of homelessness is muddle-headed. It is like saying that someone’s unemployment was caused by his dismissal.

If an employee is dismissed for theft, the cause of his unemployment is theft, not the dismissal letter. If a tenant is evicted for not paying the rent or for damaging the property or for anti-social behaviour, one of those is the cause, not the S 21 form.

Eviction is not the cause of homelessness, it is merely the process through which it sometimes occurs.  The initial cause of homelessness, if it arises, is whatever triggered the eviction – which is predominantly the behaviour of the tenant.

Note the word sometimes. Eviction does not occur immediately, and homelessness is not automatic.  Tenants are given a minimum of two months to find somewhere else to move to. If they cannot do so for some reason, then that reason is the cause of their ongoing homelessness, whether it be a poor credit history, insufficient income, lack of references or any other reason.

Landlords like nothing more than to have long-term tenants provided that they pay the rent and treat the property and the neighbours with respect, but when they stop doing so, landlords have to take action. They have a choice of two methods – Section 21 or Section 8.  Note that eviction under S 21 cannot occur until the contractual rental period has finished.

Section 21 is chosen in preference to Section 8, because it costs much less in time and money and does not require a court case unless the tenant ignores it and fails to move out at the end of the two month notice period. Even then, it does not always require an appearance in court.

It is no surprise therefore that its use increased when benefits stopped covering the rent. This situation has got worse since 2015 because of George Osborne’s levy on finance costs.

The reason for the two month’s notice period is so that a landlord can terminate a commercial relationship that he or she is not happy with, and get the property back. Otherwise tenants would have tenancies for life, which is what caused a shortage of rental accommodation in the last century, together with Rent Control.

This is the sort of thing that happened when it was impossible to evict a tenant: “In my early days of property management which would be late 1960’s or early 1970s I worked for a property company that had a lot of secure tenanted houses, because of the then security of tenure and severe restrictions on rent, it was the policy to renovate and sell as soon as a tenanted house became vacant.” Click Here to see article and comment.

Sitting tenants reduce the sales value of a property considerably. So when one finally became vacant it was sold, reducing the supply.

It was Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 that allowed an alternative to lifetime tenancies, and so gave landlords the confidence to increase the supply of rented accommodation, which had been shrinking for decades.

The fourth thing that is wrong in your brief sentence is the implication that if Section 21 did not exist, homelessness would be reduced. On the contrary, if S 21 did not exist, neither would a lot of the PRS.  What would that do to the homelessness figures Polly?

Most landlords own only one or two properties. If they had no way of recovering them they would not rent them out in the first place, and the supply would shrink again. There would be less choice for tenants and rents would be higher.

Less choice and higher rents are what Generation Rent is campaigning for by attacking S 21.

I assumed that you realised their foolishness Polly, because Section 21 is not shown on your Campaigns web page – although the Welsh branch is campaigning against it.

You did not mention it in your essay for the RLA’s anniversary celebration either, although three other people did in theirs, thus displaying their ignorance of history and lack of common sense.

However, does your sentence on last week’s programme mean that you are thinking of jumping on the bandwagon to drive even more landlords (and tenants) out of the private rented sector?



Comments

Mandy Thomson

10:30 AM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

"Section 21 is chosen in preference to Section 8, because it costs much less in time and money and does not require a court case unless the tenant ignores it and fails to move out at the end of the two month notice period. Even then, it does not always require an appearance in court."

Something like 90% of section 21 cases go through without a hearing. A hearing will only be called if there is a technicality or the tenant or landlord requests one. This is the main reason why this is so popular with landlords.

Even with section 21, it can take many months, not weeks, to get an eviction.

Depending on the caseload of the county court dealing with the case, and assuming the claim is straightforward, it takes on average 7 weeks from submission of the claim to the possession order being granted.

There is then a further 14 days for the possession order to expire before the landlord can instruct bailiffs (assuming the tenant has not been able to get a postponement, which will extend the possession notice to up to 42 days).

When instructing bailiffs, most landlords are left with no choice than to use county court bailiffs, because few realise they should submit the writ to transfer to the High Court with the possession claim form or at least as soon as possession is granted. By the time the possession order has expired, it's really too late. Also, the application process (to transfer the eviction to the High Court) is more complicated and a HCEO is more expensive.

Again, the waiting time for the county court bailiff varies from court to court, but the average is again something like 6 weeks.

Therefore, for a section 21 eviction that goes to court and requires bailiff enforcement (the vast majority of evictions that go to court), it takes a minimum of 142 days to get the property back, not just the 2 months minimum section 21 notice (I've also allowed 4 days extra days for service on top of the minimum 2 months notice).

B4lamb

14:38 PM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Obfuscated Data

Mandy Thomson

15:55 PM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by B4lamb at 06/10/2018 - 14:38
I work as a landlord advisor for one the landlord bodies. We would almost always advise section 21 over section 8 because it is generally quicker, easier and less stressful (the rent arrears may or may not be recovered in a separate claim in the small claims court).

As another poster mentioned earlier, there is almost always a compelling reason for the landlord evicting (albeit not recorded with s.21). Mostly, the landlords I speak to have tenants who have breached the agreement in some way and refuse to mend their ways. The breaches are usually very serious.

Where the fault doesn't lie with the tenant, or the tenant's conduct is borderline, it's because the landlord wants to quit - either because of advancing age, clause 24, bad relationship with tenants, repair challenges, they want to sell or any combination of these reasons. Another common reason is the tenant requests the s.21 to get social housing, though this is becoming less common since implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, though I have heard of at least one local authority ignoring it.

An interesting fact is that when I started working as an advisor, I took a possession course to refresh my memory. The course was taken by an excellent trainer who had spent many years working for Shelter (advising tenants and representing them in court). Her advice? Serve both s.21 and s.8 (for rent arrears) but given a choice, a claim pursuant to s.21 is usually preferable to one pursuant to s.8!

Old Mrs Landlord

19:50 PM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by B4lamb at 06/10/2018 - 14:38
Refer them to their own research as per Monty Bodkin's post replying to you 9.03am this morning!

Possession Friend

21:52 PM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

' SHELTER ' (sic) Want ;
The penny and the bun.
In the recent Parliamentary report into the PRS on the Quality of accommodation, Heather Wheeler and Julie Rugg pointed out that ... 82% of Private tenants were 'satisfied with their accommodtion'
Shelter And Citizens Advice ( Kate Webb & Mette Isaksen ) immediately jumped in saying ;
" Tenant satisfaction surveys can be unhelpful " !!!
( when they don't support Shelters view, that is ) so, the next time - and its quite often, that Shelter refer to some Tenant surveys..... be sure to throw that back in their face.
There is a need for a campaign group to co-ordinate all of this attack against Landlords - unless Larry's group has that in mind ?

Luke P

21:54 PM, 6th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 06/10/2018 - 21:52
That’s precisely what the Larry-led Alliance is about.

Mandy Thomson

3:02 AM, 7th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 06/10/2018 - 21:52
Given that the tenants these reports survey are contributing the information anonymously, I fail to see how Shelter can describe tenant survey reports as unhelpful (unless they can claim the surveyors only choose tenants who live nice houses...).

Generally speaking, people will complain if their expectations are not met, but often can't find the time to praise when they are met or even exceeded (as a consumer, I'm guilty as charged).

Possession Friend

17:21 PM, 7th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Appalled Landlord at 07/10/2018 - 17:17
Shelter have got no more idea about Homelessness, tenancies or landlords that a 4 year old.

Appalled Landlord

17:22 PM, 7th October 2018
About 2 years ago

Shelter’s own website gives the lie to Polly Neate’s claim that evictions cause homelessness. She still seems to have a lot to learn, even after more than a year in post. Or has she been put there to mislead the public?

“Reasons given by homeless people for being homeless

The three main reasons for having lost a last settled home, given by applicants for homelessness support from local councils are:
parents, friends or relatives unwilling or unable to continue to accommodate them
relationship breakdown, including domestic violence
loss of an assured shorthold tenancy. [1]
However, these reasons are only the catalysts that trigger people into seeking assistance, and not the underlying issues that have caused the crisis to build up in the first place.
For many people, there's no single event that results in sudden homelessness. Instead, homelessness is due to a number of unresolved problems building up over time.
[1] Statutory homelessness statistics, CLG, 2008”
http://m.england.shelter.org.uk/campaigns_/why_we_campaign/tackling_homelessness/What_causes_homelessness

Appalled Landlord

14:39 PM, 9th October 2018
About 2 years ago

I’ve just seen this rule on Shelter’s website: “never deliberately misleading or confusing a member of the public”
https://england.shelter.org.uk/what_we_do/how_we_spend_your_money

It only applies to face-to-face fundraisers though, not to the CEO or the Director of Communications. They can carry on their mission of misleading the public. For example on TV recently, respectively:

“These so-called Section 21 evictions, or no-fault evictions, meaning no fault on behalf of the tenant, are actually the single biggest cause of homelessness in the country now.”

“people on benefits are very good tenants, landlords make as much profit from people who are on benefits as landlords make from people who aren’t on benefits”.

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