The myth that landlords can evict at a moment’s notice

by Readers Question

15:24 PM, 13th November 2019
About 7 months ago

The myth that landlords can evict at a moment’s notice

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The myth that landlords can evict at a moment’s notice

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 They find a buyer for Sarah’s flat but at the last minute Sarah’s buyer has his mortgage offer withdrawn by his lender.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?

Other issues:

  1. Is it right that when someone is not paying the rent, they get to stay rent-free in a property, where the landlord is paying the mortgage and all the bills, for, in this case, 8 months? –
  2. How come councils and ‘charities’ are still instructing tenants to ‘sit tight’ and wait for a bailiff’s warrant, when this causes huge losses to private landlords?
  3. How can the Government even be contemplating getting rid of Section 21 – currently the least awful option for landlords – because it is seen as favouring the landlord?

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.

Debbie



Comments

Luke P

11:53 AM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by christine walker at 14/11/2019 - 11:48
And I'm not aware of anyone enforcing in Scotland if a LL spuriously claims they need it back for a 'valid' reason. I mean, what if they genuinely wanted to sell but there was no interest...could they not ever re-rent the property? Also, by the time the original tenant has moved out and moved on, nobody will care all that much about putting in a ton of effort for not really any gain to prove the LL cheated the system. Forever Tenant, you make the assumption that LLs will just continue to rent their properties. Some may sell or diversify...remember that every action yields a reaction.

Appalled Landlord

12:05 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by The Forever Tenant at 14/11/2019 - 11:36
What made you “live every single day in fear”?

Most tenants end their tenancies themselves, so never receive a Section 21 notice.

Most tenants had never heard of Section 21 until activists like the organisation that calls itself Generation Rent and Shelter whipped up hysteria about it

The Forever Tenant

12:06 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

I've tried to come up with solutions to the section 21 issue and there are no easy ones.

My thoughts, and I would be interested to hear others opinions on these.

Increase the length of notice of a section 21. Instead of 2 months, make it 3 or 4 instead but it also comes with a guarantee that at that 3/4 month mark you can call the bailiffs. No court appointment required. Trying to find a new place to live with 2 months notice is stressful. Doubly so if you are a full time worker and cannot get to viewings. Trying to find a new place to rent feels like a full time job by itself. That little extra time will take the pressure off.

Another option, when the Section 21 is issued, the tenant is no longer responsible for the rent due. Once again, bailiffs can be called at the 2 month mark, but this gives the tenant a bit of financial leeway should they need to come up with a deposit, first months rent, moving costs and time off work.
For those evicting due to non payment of rent, it's not going to affect you as you are not getting money anyway.

The Forever Tenant

12:14 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Appalled Landlord at 14/11/2019 - 12:05
Section 21 is becoming more well known to all tenants, but not due to Shelter or GR but because its being given to tenants like myself in the middle class who are being issued them for no reason.

My previous landlord was fantastic, Sweet old lady. She was happy with us, we were happy with her. Then she got cancer and died within a few months. Her son inherited her estate and issued me with a section 21 as soon as he could. His reason being that he was going to turn the place I lived into an HMO so he could make more money from the property.

As such, I needed to find a new place to live.

I never know if a landlord needs to sell up, wants to move in or simply wants to get rid of me for whatever reason they want, no matter what feelings I have on the issue.

This has not just happened to me, but others around me. Professional couples being told to leave their premises because of decisions their landlord is making and nothing with regards to the actions of the tenants themselves.

Appalled Landlord

12:18 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by The Forever Tenant at 14/11/2019 - 12:14
There is always a reason.

hitesh Kotadia

12:22 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

I am in process of evicting for non rent payments and so far it has taken 5.5 months and hearing set for 18 Nov 19 which will be 6 months and after that the Judge might give them another 14 days before we can instruct bailifs so it will take nearly 6.5 - 7 months to evict them while they haugh on my face.

Luke P

12:46 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by The Forever Tenant at 14/11/2019 - 12:06
The 3-4 month notice period but with instant Bailiffs almost all LLs would snatch your hand off at. Whilst the honest tenants would gain a month or two’s extension, it would be vastly quicker for the seemingly endless tenants that defy the notice or even the Judge’s Order.

christine walker

12:48 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

You most probably live on a large city where there is always the opportunity to make more money from a property by diversifying it's use. That is just the nature of the beast I am afraid.There are lots of landlords le me who went into BTL as an alternative to a pension. I bought two bed new builds 2007 and I am happy to rent long term if people pay the rent and look after the place. My properties are worth the same now as when I bought them because of the credit crunch so my rental is important to me as the only return on my investment. I am not allowed to offset mortgage costs against my tax any longer as all other businesses are . I cannot see many people going into the private rental sector now which means there will be even less properties to rent which will make the problem for tenants even worse

Luke P

13:13 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by christine walker at 14/11/2019 - 12:48
Was that in response to me, christine?

christine walker

13:48 PM, 14th November 2019
About 7 months ago

Luke P. No Luke it was in answer to the forever tenant

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