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Scrapping Section 21 – Not helpful for landlords but potentially beneficial for agents?

Find out how scrapping Section 21 could benefit lettings agents.

In April, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced its intention to abolish Section 21 evictions.

In its place, MHCLG proposes that landlords be required to serve a Section 8 notice providing a “concrete, evidenced reason already specified in law” in order to regain possession of their property.

The currently, much exercised, Section 21 eviction process, also known as ‘the no-fault eviction process’, allows landlords to regain possession of their property without having to provide a specific reason for taking the property back and is relatively straightforward to achieve.

Regaining possession through a Section 8 notice is, however, not that straightforward. For starters, a section 8 notice can only be used when seeking to repossess the property if one or more of the 17 specific, mandatory or discretionary grounds, such as when a tenant has fallen into rent arrears, has been involved in criminal or anti-social behaviour or broken the terms of their tenancy agreement, are referenced.

The other complication of issuing a Section 8 notice is that the notice period required depends on which of those 17 grounds are referenced as the basis for the repossession. Consequently, as it currently stands, the complexity and timescales involved in regaining possession of a property through a Section 8 notice, make the process slow and cumbersome.

When making their announcement in April, the Government did pledge to amend the process of serving a Section 8 notice in order to eliminate much of complexity that currently exists but it is hard to imagine how that can be achieved without compromising the very aim that eradication of the Section 21 process sought to ensure – stability and protection for the tenant.

How this benefits lettings agents

Assuming the process of issuing a Section 8 notice continues to be complex, legalistic and time consuming, there is no doubt that the average accidental landlord will find it difficult to deliver the accuracy and precision that is necessary to guarantee the desired result.

There is, therefore, a very persuasive argument to be made that the plan to scrap Section 21, will benefit agents whose professional knowledge and expert guidance could be crucial in determining the success or failure of the landlord’s efforts to legally regain possession of their property.

When time is of the essence, it is most likely that the process will fall beyond the level of competence of such landlords, with severe consequences preventing the landlord from achieving the results sought, in the shortest possible timeframe.

Many landlords don’t consider there to be any value added by agents once a tenant has been secured. It is, however, clear that the more restrictive and complex the repossession process becomes, the more value an agent can add at the end of a tenancy.

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