Chris Norris, NLA director of policy and practice

 

Chris Norris, NLA director of policy and practice, is calling on all members this month to tell us your tales of regaining possession. How long did it take? Did you use Section 21, Section 8 or both? We would like to know about your real-life stories so that we can lobby the government to improve the process for all.

The issue: Regaining possession through the courts

Summary

With the Budget behind us, the NLA wishes to focus our attention on the issue of possession, what we want the system to look like and what we don’t want the government to do.

The government’s eight-week consultation ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector’ closed at the end of August; one of the many points it considered was possession. Landlords have two different ways of regaining possession, either through a so-called ‘no fault’ eviction Section 21 or via Section 8 on one or more of the grounds outlined in the Housing Act 1988. But our research shows that relatively few landlords use Section 8, despite many having legal grounds to do so. Of course, we understand why Section 21 is often preferable, or even advisable, but we need to be able to demonstrate this objectively, using real life experiences. 

The next step in the Government’s journey of discovery is an evidence-gathering exercise, focused on how the courts work – or don’t work – in practice when it comes to possession processes. Time and time again those responsible for the courts have told us that landlords exaggerate the issues with which they are confronted; we need evidence of real experiences to show them the reality of the situation. 

NLA View

So far, our research shows that it takes on average just over 100 days for our members to regain possession of a property when they use a Section 21. If they use a Section 8, however, it takes on average 145 days and costs just under £6,000.

The latest research the NLA conducted based on a sample of around 800 landlords found that only one in 10 had used a Section 8 in the last three years. And yet, nine in 10 landlords that have sought possession have done so because of rent arrears.

We routinely see that landlords do not have confidence in the Section 8 route and we want to highlight the reasons why. The cost, length of time it takes to regain possession and all of the other less obvious reasons.

Our concern is that there are voices in the public debate over possession that want to chip away at landlords’ rights. Increasingly, we are hearing worrying stories from members calling our Advice Line about councils giving tenants incorrect information regarding possession that could result in tenants committing criminal offences!

This is our opportunity to fix the problems surrounding possession, but we need your help. We need to gather as many real-life stories of possession (good and bad) as possible to build up a solid package of evidence to present to policymakers.

Get in touch with your real-life property possession stories on contact@landlords.org.uk to help us reform the court process for good.
 

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9 November 2018 - 9:11am