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Some of the so-called housing charities like to say that tenants must be protected, that they have no security in the private rented sector, that they can be asked to leave at a moment’s notice, on a whim from the landlord. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Landlords must always give at least two months’ notice and usually only issue notice if the tenant has not paid the rent for some time and has accrued a large amount of arrears. This is the point at which the possession process begins. It then takes many months, with obstacles thrown in the landlord’s way, left, right and centre.
Below is a recent case, which illustrates how long it actually takes to get possession with Section 21. All the time that possession is denied the landlord, the landlord is pushed further and further into debt while the tenant lives rent free. What is clear is that Section 21 must not be abolished; it must be strengthened.
A recent case:
Sarah is a polite young lady, 26 years of age. She works as an administration assistant for an electronics company, quite well paid but she’ll never be a millionaire on her salary.
In mid-2016 she excitedly picked up the keys for her first property purchase, a Taylor Wimpey new-build apartment in a shiny new development in Newport.
Two years later Sarah and her boyfriend of 3 years Steve decide to take the next step on the property ladder and purchase a 3-bed home. They find a buyer for Sarah’s flat but at the last minute Sarah’s buyer has his mortgage offer withdrawn by his lender.
Sarah is told that the lease for the flat is toxic and the lender isn’t willing to take a chance on it, because of issues to do with the ground rent the lender could lose the money secured against the property.
Steve and Sarah have to decide whether to proceed with the purchase of their dream home. Money would be tight until another buyer is found. Convinced it won’t take long given the interest in the apartment, they press ahead. Unfortunately, however, each time they find a buyer for the apartment, it falls through for the same reason as the first time.
By this time Steve and Sarah are getting desperate for the money they need in order to refurbish their new home. They are living in a property with damp and no proper kitchen.
Sarah decides to look into renting out the apartment. However, she is told that as she took out a Help To Buy loan when she bought the property, she can’t rent it out. She therefore decides to get someone to rent it on a lodger agreement as these have no restrictions.
A lodger/tenant in his early 40s moves in on 21st January at a rent of £162pw, including bills and council tax.
On week 6 the tenant doesn’t pay the rent. Over the following month he makes a few more part payments and then stops paying completely. Around this time Sarah discovers that the tenant is on a suspended prison sentence for stealing money from a football club that was meant for an animal charity.
Sarah takes advice, as she relies on the rent to pay her own bills including the mortgage and the utilities that the tenant is benefiting from.
On 20th May, by which time the tenants owes a considerable amount of arrears, Sarah issues a Section 21 notice, with an expiry date of 22nd July.
The tenant does not vacate by 22nd July so court proceedings are started. The possession hearing takes place on 26th September. Due to a technicality over the serving of a S21 for a lodger agreement the hearing is adjourned.
The second possession hearing takes place on 15th October; possession is granted. The tenant must leave by 29th October.
The tenant does not leave by 29th October and informs Sarah that his council housing officer had instructed him to ‘sit tight’ and wait for a Bailiff’s warrant. An application is made on 30th October for a bailiff’s warrant.
The bailiff who covers the area has been away on compassionate leave and returns to the office to find around 30 cases waiting for his attention. He estimates he will not be able to enact the eviction any time before 12th December. By this point, the tenant will have ripped Sarah off the tune of around £3636, excluding eviction costs of around £1200. In what universe is this seen as a system favouring the landlord and not the tenant?
I would welcome landlords adding their own examples in the comments section below, of how long it has taken them to get their property back, so that we can present this to Government. These will be real examples, and not the fantasy ones imagined by the likes of Shelter – who, indeed are often complicit in advocating for these rogue tenants so that they can rip off decent landlords for even longer.
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