A leading lawyer warns that by abolishing section 21 the government will be helping nuisance tenants at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.
Under the Renters (Reform) Bill, landlords will be able to evict for behaviours ‘capable of causing’ a nuisance or annoyance as opposed to behaviours ‘likely to cause’ a nuisance or annoyance.
Although the government says this means that a wider range of tenant behaviours can be considered in court, Ian Narbeth, solicitor at DMH Stallard, argues that this misses the point.
“Lawyers may argue about the subtle change in wording, but most cases don’t get to court and by the time they do, the behaviour is serious and anti-social – not just capable of being so,” he explains. “Until now, landlords served section 21 notices on anti-social tenants and did not need to go to court.”
With the massive backlog in cases, it can be many months before cases are heard, witnesses may fear harassment by an aggressive neighbour or their family and friends, while landlords can give no guarantee of succeeding and witnesses will fear reprisals, especially if the eviction fails, adds Narbeth.
Troublemakers “Instead of landlords dealing with the problem simply and confidentially, abolishing section 21 means troublemakers must have their day in court and many victims will choose to suffer in silence or else leave their homes rather than give evidence.
“The government will be helping nuisance tenants at the expense of the weak and vulnerable, which is the opposite of what it is claiming.”
Landlord Action’s Paul Shamplina has already warned that there could be more section 8 rent arrears cases, prompting a social housing crisis with many tenants struggling to be rehoused as a result of scrapping section 21, while the TDS charitable foundation says it might not provide the hoped-for feelings of security or encourage tenants to complain when rental homes are in short supply.
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