United Kingdom

Could new eviction figures end S21 fight?

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Are politicians fighting yesterday’s battles over “no-fault” Section 21 evictions?

Earlier this month, the Labour Party joined activist groups in calling for faster scrapping of Section 21 evictions. The call came after the government’s rental reform White Paper, which is expected to propose changes to the eviction process, was delayed once again to early 2022. 

But new figures from the Ministry of Justice show that possession claims are already getting rarer (Q3 2021). Compared to Q3 2019, landlord possession claims are down by 64%, and repossessions are down by 35%.

According to Timothy Douglas, policy manager at Propertymark, the fall in possessions shows that letting agents’ hard work is paying off – and that a major overhaul of eviction rules is unnecessary. By mediating between landlords and tenants and negotiating repayment arrangements, agents have helped to manage arrears and sustain tenancies, preventing the wave of evictions forecast by housing charities.

However, there is more than one way to look at the figures. Homelessness charity Crisis pointed out that possessions had risen by 207% compared to the previous quarter as pandemic-related restrictions were rolled back. Eviction notice periods only returned to normal in England last month, and Scotland and Wales still have extended notice periods in place. The MoJ itself said the decline in evictions is “unlikely to be representative of general trends in possession actions”.

Landlords may also have been put off by a backlogged court system. The Ministry’s figures show that the median possession claim currently takes 68 weeks to complete, up from 20 weeks in the same period of 2019. Now that court processes are returning to pre-pandemic normal, courts can begin clearing that backlog – and evictions could return to 2019 levels.

Other landlord headlines

Research lays bare failure to tackle criminal landlords – Property118

Landlord ordered to repay former tenants almost £47,000 – Landlord Today

Tax changes for Airbnb landlords “in the pipeline” – LandlordZONE

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