Response to Enforcement of Suspended Orders Consultation

About the NLA

The National Landlords Association (NLA) exists to protect and promote the interests of private residential landlords.

Working with more than 76,000 individual landlords from around the United Kingdom we provide a comprehensive range of benefits and services to our members and strive to raise standards in the private-rented sector.

The NLA seeks a fair legislative and regulatory environment for the private-rented sector (PRS) while aiming to ensure that landlords are aware of their statutory rights and responsibilities.

Question 2: Should certain types of case be excluded from the additional safeguard (e.g. possession orders suspended on condition of payment of rent or mortgage instalments and arrears, return of goods orders etc.). If so, which types of cases do you think should be excluded and why?

The NLA agrees with the majority view of the CPRC members that a distinction should be made in cases where an order is suspended on monetary terms and those where other conditions are imposed.

The NLA also agrees with committee that “the requirement for a permission stage, with concomitant costs and delay may act as a disincentive to landlords to agree to suspend orders and encourage them to seek an immediate possession order.”

Any landlord seeking the enforcement of a suspended possession order for rent arrears has already suffered a likely substantial financial loss through the rent arrears and previous court and legal costs. Unnecessarily imposing a financial penalty on landlords seeking possession this way, either through further court costs or extra time with non-payment of rent, could have a damaging impact upon the experience of tenants as a whole.

At a time when the Government has committed itself to promoting the use of longer tenancies in the private rented sector, it is important that barriers are not put in place for landlords to be willing to offer such tenancies.

The NLA recently undertook a focus group research project with BRDC Continental to study landlords’ perceptions of longer tenancies. Although some landlords were open to the concept, highlighting security of income as a potential benefit, most respondents had strong concerns. The main concern was the ability, or lack thereof, to evict a rogue tenant without a long and costly court case.

It is this perception of risk associated with longer tenancies and the use of Section 8 possession grounds that is prohibiting landlords’ willingness to offer longer fixed-term periods.

The proportion of private landlords’ using the accelerated procedure has increased from 45% of claims in 1999, up to 65% of claims in 2015.  The confidence and relatively speedy possession which this route provides landlords is the reason that it is preferred, and in turn why 6 or 12 month tenancies are so prevalent in the private rented sector. The risk of rent arrears, and the ensuing financial damage this can cause to a landlords business and ability/willingness to offer their property to rent, is a constant source of frustration for many landlords.

NLA Landlord Panel, Q2 2017

The levels of confidence and risk are strongly linked to the falling proportion of landlords willing to let their property to LHA claimants, and other vulnerable households. LHA claimants and households in receipt of other benefits are ranked as at the highest risk of falling into rent arrears.

NLA Landlord Panel, Q2 2016

Any extra barrier that is put in front of landlords seeking to regain possession of their property due to rent arrears could negatively imp[act landlords’ willingness to let their properties to such tenant groups. This willingness is already at an all-time low.

The NLA therefore believes that additional safeguards are not necessary in cases of non-payment of rent, which can be easily evidenced and any extra delays financially ruinous to the landlords in question.

While we would welcome the extension of this to cover all cases of possession, so as to minimise costs and delays in all instances, we accept that removing the safeguard for less straight-forward claims, such as for alleged anti-social behaviour, is not seen as appropriate.

Question 3: If you do not think that a permission stage for issue of a writ or warrant is required in respect of possession orders suspended on terms as to payment of monies, do you think the rules should require that evidence of the breach of those terms must be included with the request to issue?

The NLA believes that, in line with the spirit of the changes to reduce the financial and time burden on landlords facing non-payment of rent outlined above, that evidence of the breach should not be required to be included with the request to issue.