Government Pledges Court Reform Before Section 21 Goes
The Government has pledged that section 21 ‘no fault’ repossessions will not be scrapped until improvements have been made to the way courts handle legitimate possession cases.
The move was confirmed in the Government's response to the Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Select Committee's 'Reforming the Private Rented Sector' report on the forthcoming Renters (Reform) Bill. You can access the Government's response in full here.
At present it takes an average of over half a year for the courts to process possession claims where landlords have good cause, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has long argued that without quicker court processes, responsible landlords would simply leave the market following the abolition of section 21, at a time when renters are already struggling to find a place to live.
Responding to a report from the House of Commons Housing Select Committee ahead of MPs debating the Renters (Reform) Bill on Monday, the Government has confirmed that implementation of the new system for repossessing properties “will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts.” It continues: “That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place.”
Alongside this, the Government has agreed with the NRLA’s call for a new ground to repossess properties to protect the yearly nature of the student housing market. By scrapping fixed term tenancies, the NRLA warned that neither landlords, nor students, would have any certainty that properties would be available to rent at the start of each academic year.
The Government has said it will “introduce a ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies” which “will enable new students to sign up to a property in advance, safe in the knowledge they will have somewhere to live the next year.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Reform of the rental market will only work if it has the confidence of responsible landlords every bit as much as tenants. This is especially important given the rental housing supply crisis renters now face.
“Following extensive campaigning by the NRLA, we welcome the approach taken by ministers to ensure court improvements are made before section 21 ends. The Government is also right to protect the student housing market. However, more is needed to ensure student landlords are treated the same as providers of purpose-built student accommodation.
“We will continue to engage positively with all parties as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”
If you'd like to read the Government's response in further detail, click here to access the relevant document.