Special Report Nick Clay 19/07/2019

Possession Reform in the PRS: Section 21

In April 2019 the Government announced plans to consult on the removal of the Section 21 notice.

Section 21 has provided an important assurance to landlords that they can regain possession of their property in legitimate circumstances.

To date, there has been little research on why this notice is used by landlords, or how important it is to retain the confidence of those who supply homes to tenants in the private rented sector (PRS). 

Therefore, the former Residential Landlords Association (RLA), now NRLA, launched what has become the largest ever non-government survey of the PRS to establish what Section 21 means to landlords, agents and those supporting the supply of private rented properties. 

Our survey

More than 6,300 responses were submitted in response to this consultation.

This is the largest consultation exercise in the RLA’s 20-year history. 

This level of response reflects the concerns of the private rented sector in respect of both reform of Section 21 and the adequacy of any complementary reforms.

Key findings

Our findings show clearly that landlords are not litigious – and like to keep good tenants in their homes.

Where they have been forced to use Section 21, poor tenant behaviour is usually the catalyst.

In all 96% of those who supply homes to private rented sector tenants feel very strongly that Section 21 is important to their business.  

One reason for the preference for using Section 21 over Section 8 may be the low opinion in which respondents hold the current court system.

More than 90% of respondents would welcome the introduction of a specialist housing court to address the lack of confidence landlords have in the current court process.

Landlords are already reluctant to rent properties to tenants in receipt of Universal Credit due to the substantial arrears these tenants often find themselves. 

Should Section 21 be removed, 84% of landlords would be likely to become more restrictive in who they provide homes to.

This is likely to impact on low income, vulnerable tenants most of all.

Policy recommendations

Retain Section 21

At a time of buoyant demand for rented properties, revoking the Section 21 notice risks driving more than 40% of landlords out of the sector. This will make it harder for tenants to find a home to live in. If Section 21 is to be removed it should only happen once any alternative route is fit for purpose.

Implement a new specialist, low cost Housing Court – and properly fund it

The current system is failing both tenants and landlords alike. Section 8 needs to be significantly improved with additional grounds, amendments to existing ones and access to the accelerated possession route.

Introduce new financial incentives that would allow landlords to feel more confident buying and selling properties with tenants in situ

Possession Reform in the PRS

Last updated: 01/07/2020 at 09:40 - 3.49 MB