Looming Section 8 Eviction Reforms Will Be ‘unwieldy And Difficult’ Says Leading Lawyer

Property lawyers have flagged up potential problems with eviction reform measures within the Renters Reform Bill white paper.

An amendment to Section 8 notice evictions will expand the range of circumstances where landlords can seek possession when needing to sell or allow themselves or a close family member to move back into a property.

A new mandatory ground for repeated serious arrears will mean that possession orders will be granted irrespective of the balance of arrears at the hearing date where there have been at least two months’ arrears on any three occasions within a three-year period.

But Clyde & Co partner Keith Conway (main picture) fears the persistent arrears ground will be unwieldy and difficult for landlords to use and will be a high hurdle for them to clear.

Chunky “It actually [covers] quite a chunky period and is very easy for a tenant to manipulate themselves into and out of that situation, so I suspect the ground will not arise that often, even though it is mandatory,” he tells Commercial Dispute Resolution magazine.

Conway says the bill lacks detail of what constitutes a ‘close family member’, giving rise to doubts about how effective this ground will be and how it could be challenged.

He believes when the legislation is introduced, more smaller landlords will exit the market in favour of those who have greater resources to cope with the changes and disputes to come.

Smaller operator “The direction of travel is clearly against the smaller operator, and economies of scale are needed to put these systems into place,” he adds.

The bill has also signalled potential improvements to dispute resolution processes. Osborne Clarke associate director Sue Thompson believes that improving the court system – something the government has said it would tackle – is vital due to significant delays when relying on the court process.

“Reforming that area is crucial going forward to improve efficiency and provide enhanced access to other means of redress,” she says.

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