Tenant evictions: It’s time for an uncomfortable conversation

Tenant evictions: It’s time for an uncomfortable conversation

10:39 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago 37

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Dear tenants everywhere, I hope all is well and for the majority of you who don’t know about the Renters (Reform) Bill, that life continues to be sweet. For the few renters who are aware of the upcoming law, you need to know about a growing misunderstanding among politicians, the media and homelessness campaigners about tenant evictions that’s causing more harm than good.

You see, you might be under the impression that it will become more difficult to evict you because Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions will be abolished, but like the crazy notion many of you enjoyed in lockdown who thought a ‘rent freeze’ was a ‘we don’t have to pay rent’, there’s a shock coming your way.

Because I’m predicting that not only will evictions continue, but they will increase. Crazy, eh? Let me explain.

We have seen two illustrations of the basic misunderstanding of what evictions are this week: idiot protestors outside Michael Gove’s home trying to hand him an eviction notice (it’s a grace-and-favour home so he’ll likely be marched out of it later this year, anyway).

And we have my old friends at Shelter claiming that one million tenants have been evicted for no fault since the Renters (Reform) Bill was first mooted in 2019.

Its chief executive, Polly Neate, was on Sky News claiming that tenants being served a Section 21 notice are ‘being tipped into homelessness’.

Misconceptions about tenant evictions in the UK

It is time, I think, to unravel the misconceptions about tenant evictions in the UK – and renters and campaigners aren’t going to like it.

Firstly, the notion that Section 21, or ‘no fault’ evictions, are for no fault is a deliberate misconception. As landlords, we know this isn’t true. They should be called ‘no reason given’.

Tenants are not asked to leave a property without good reason – it doesn’t make sense for a landlord to evict a tenant if there are no issues, or if they just want to sell.

That’s because evictions cost landlords money in lost rent, property maintenance and legal fees associated with re-letting.

A Section 21 notice often saves having to get into tit-for-tat arguments with tenants who may not realise the problems they cause to a property. (Whoa, hold on Landlord Crusader – don’t dare imply that some tenants deserve to be evicted….).

Fed into the anti-landlord narrative

The term ‘no-fault’ eviction has unfortunately fed into the anti-landlord narrative that has been ramped up by certain campaign groups.

It’s now a buzzword for the media – who really should know better.

Not being impartial in the coverage of Section 21 means there’s a skewed perception of landlords and the eviction process.

Shelter’s claim that nearly one million tenants have been evicted under the Section 21 process doesn’t hold up for me.

The poll they used asked for opinions and experiences.

It didn’t, noticeably, ask landlords for their opinions about evictions in the UK.

But if everyone took a step back and understood there are around 4.6 million private tenants in the UK and 90+% haven’t been evicted for any reason, means what?

It means we are focusing on a tiny issue and using this to blame the ills of renting on ALL landlords.

Landlords want to keep tenants

It also means that landlords want to keep tenants – and the real issue for evictions might be tenants themselves not paying rent, causing anti-social behaviour or damaging their rented property.

And the other big issue is that there is a massive problem with the fearmongering from organisations like Shelter.

I’ve said this before but while we are talking about a tenant’s home, we are really talking about a landlord’s property.

And the moves afoot will see the removal of a landlord’s rights over his/her own property – and the tenant’s rights surpassing them.

How is it fair that a tenant can make demands and essentially become a tenant for life when it is the landlord who has worked hard and saved up to invest?

It doesn’t make sense.

It’s time to change the narrative and shed light on the realities of tenant evictions in the UK.

So, when will we see the likes of Shelter with its millions of pounds of turnover every year (and millions sitting in the bank) start renting out property?

That’s probably too much like hard work when corporate donors are lining up and media poodles get their sound bites.

Because renting out property is a stressful occupation.

We have sacrificed and worked towards creating wealth for our retirement to be told that this is a disgraceful thing to do.

We didn’t create the housing crisis, we didn’t push interest rates up, we didn’t create tenant demand with uncontrolled immigration, and it wasn’t us that didn’t build enough homes.

But we did create a huge part of the housing sector offering quality homes to those who can’t afford to buy or get a council house.

It’s a thankless task being a landlord

I appreciate you won’t always know that it’s a thankless task being a landlord, but I didn’t realise until this week how poorly we are portrayed. Everyone it appears, literally, hates us.

And as the Renters (Reform) Bill makes its glacial progress to becoming law, I’m sure we will be in for a rocky ride.

Still no organisation stands up for us. No one asks for our thoughts on ever more regulations.

We really are the whipping boys and girls of the housing sector. We don’t deserve property rights or a voice in the media.

We only deserve bad-mouthing and stiffer laws.

If private landlords really are that bad, why doesn’t the government announce it will nationalise the sector and buy us out?

Surely, that’s a win-win?

Or would a handy media issue to distract from the real housing problems in this country be eradicated, leaving the stone-cold truth for everyone to see?

Landlords aren’t the bad guys, and neither are most of the tenants.

It’s the mealy-mouthed politicians, landlord-hating campaign groups and spineless media mouthpieces who have whipped up a fake news controversy.

And at the end of it, when the Bill becomes law, tenants everywhere will find that landlords are selling up to avoid losing control of their property – because no one understands the difference between ‘no-fault’ and ‘no reason given’.

Tenants, you have my utmost sympathy because of this campaign your rents will increase, and choice will fall as landlords leave and no government – especially a Labour one – will have what it takes to build the homes we need.

Until next time,

The Landlord Crusader


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Comments

AccidentalLandlord2024

10:55 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

"thankless"

Quite. But surprisingly, you still see people asking how to become one on FB/forums etc 🙂

Statistically, the number of available units has only decreased by a little so far. So, we shall see.

Phil Johnson

11:04 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Hello, The Landlord Crusader.
Tenant here. You say you want an uncomfortable conversation so, ok. Here goes.
I flatter myself, but I think I am a good tenant. I pay my rent on time each month, and my family and I take good care of our home.
I think I have a good Landlord. In so much as I hear from her as little as possible, and the one time the cooker broke down and I was forced to contact the landlord, it was repaired within 48 hours.
I agree with you in many respects. I think it should be easier for you landlords to remove bad tenants. Who don't pay rent on time or who damage the property. But no one is talking about taking away your rights to do those things. I do think the state should create some system where it is more automatic in that if you can prove you have not been paid, you can automatically regain control of your property.
However however however. This is not what Section 21 says or what it is for. Section 21 creates the climate of fear that I, a good tenant could be evicted for no reason at any moment. You go at great pains to explain that no rational landlord would kick out a good tenant. My counterpoint would be that humans are fallible and occasionally do things which are irrational or driven by things other then sound economic thinking. Prejudice, for example.
I want to live in a world where my relationship with my landlord is the same as my relationship with my braudband company. If I don't pay, I get cut off. If I use the product for something I am not supposed to be using it for, I get cut off. But If I pay my monthly fee on time each month and abide by the rules I know I am safe from arbitrary disconnection.
Isn't that fair?
Part of the issue is that even though Landlords provide a service vital to life, unlike the various utilities they are not large companies which are driven only by sound economics, rather they are a mish mash of private individuals who are driven by all kinds of different factors depending on their outlook and circumstances. Can you understand that it is scary to be living at the whim of another person, even if you know that the rational thing for them to do is not to evict you? Things can happen in the life of a person that don't happen to big companies. Your landlord might die and there decedents might not be interested in landlording. They might have sudden expenses and need to liquidate some assets, including your home! They might just decide they don't like you, for all kinds of other unknowable reasons.
Ultimately, our conversation means nothing. You are an annonimous landlord, and I am a random tennant. But just like you, I want to get my feelings out of my head and onto the page. Because I'm sick of feeling like I could be evicted at any time, for no reason.
And guess what, another point in your favor. A lot of this is Shelters fault. Who is it who goes around telling people like me "Hey, you know, you could be evicted at a moments notice. Yes, you the nice middle class professional with a family who pays their rent on time each month". I agree, perhaps ignorance was bliss.
But I can't put that genie back in the bottle. I can't regain the piece of mind that I had when I didn't understand the law, only reform will do that. So reform is what I will vote for.

Monty Bodkin

11:09 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by AccidentalLandlord2024 at 19/04/2024 - 10:55
https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/buytolet/article-12743015/More-landlords-selling-properties-buying-mortgage-arrears-DOUBLE.html

By the end of this year, private landlords will have sold almost 300,000 more homes than they have bought since 2016

Monty Bodkin

11:19 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil Johnson at 19/04/2024 - 11:04
"But no one is talking about taking away your rights to do those things."

They are doing.
Section 21 is the only effective way to evict ASB tenants. The proposed improvements are worthless.

Steve

11:47 AM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Some Good points, but quite a lot of rattling the sabre.
The solution is more affordable social housing, however this costs and given the current state of affairs its a bill no one wants to pay so I guess we have to deal with it.
Landlords are mainly decent people, but they are in it for some profit, be it retirement income or otherwise.
Tenants avoid maintenance factoring etc and avoid the flexibility of long term investments in illiquid housing stock.
For some renting is a choice of convenience for some choice is an illusion, those are the ones failed not by the Landlords but by elected officials.

John MacAlevey

12:03 PM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

`It’s now a buzzword for the media – who really should know better.`

ha ha! the media don`t care whether what they write or report on is factually correct, it does`nt matter. The mis-reporting never gets challenged or sanctioned..the media has a free hand to do as they please..& they do. You won`t stop them. Several media lineups..talk show stations are busily parachuting in left wing, socialist-leaning presenters to strategically place themselves in the `winning` corner post election. Good but cynical business sense.

Cider Drinker

12:37 PM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil Johnson at 19/04/2024 - 11:04
I can see your point but, how many good tenants do you personally know that have been evicted for no reason using Section 21? That is, just for fun and not that the landlord needs to move back home after working away, needs to sell because of an unfair tax regime and over-regulation, is being repossessed by their mortgage provider.

Before becoming a landlord, people should consider if the business is really for them. Too many do it ‘just for fun’ without understanding the financial risks and the impact on our fellow human beings when they decide not to play any longer.

Like wise, politicians, the media and so-called charities should take a moment to consider the impact of their actions. Don’t be fooled, none of these people care about you. Shelter would provide erm, shelter, if only they cared about the homeless. Politicians would introduce a tax regime that encourages long term lets if they cared about tenants. The media only want to sell newspapers.

This article is spot on and your points from a tenant’s viewpoint are well made.

Cider Drinker

12:38 PM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve at 19/04/2024 - 11:47
The solution is fewer people.

How many houses would be available at lower rents if net migration was zero?

Old Mrs Landlord

12:49 PM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 19/04/2024 - 11:19
I would argue that in fact the new rules on ASB are worse than useless because of the abolition of fixed term tenancies. Under the RRB the tenants can stay for ever or until the landlord sells up but who's going to buy a place with a tenant who terrorises the neighbourhood?

David Houghton

13:04 PM, 19th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil Johnson at 19/04/2024 - 11:04
Unfortunately reform won't give you that piece of mind that ignorance of the law gave you. Your landlord may have so many problems with other tenants he just decides to give up and sell everything. So it's still off you go.

A landlord that doesn't repair his property can suffer the sanction of his tenant withholding rent. This may be news to you, but most landlords are ok with this. Because we want rid of bad landlords to. Feel free to be a turkey and vote for Christmas. We are already closed to new tenants and have always had no eviction without cause policies in place. Even threatening me with a knife didn't mean automatic eviction, it meant said person needs some extra help. But take away that not too difficult exit, it becomes I will report it to the police and evict

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