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Proposed Leasehold Reform – Part 1

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Have you ever tried nailing jelly to the wall?  No, me neither.  Ok, have you ever tried plastering with a half-empty 2 litre Evian bottle?  No, well I have and it doesn’t work so don’t try it.  But this is exactly how I feel about the current leasehold reforms that have been proposed.  Unfortunately, like me sending a dozen red roses to Salma Hayek, they just will not have the desired effect.

Over the next few days, maybe longer, I am going to look at a few of the proposals and the justifications behind them and explain why I either think they are not needed, bizarre, or not going to give the desired effect.  Obviously, at the moment these are simply proposals so plenty of time for amendments although I doubt we will see enough to give me hope that maybe this time Salma might call…

So today I want to just quickly look at the overall justification of the Government for apparently abolishing section 21.  As most of you will be aware, section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows a landlord to serve notice on a tenant to end the tenancy.  This requires 2 months’ notice and the fixed term to have expired.  Most importantly though, it does not require any wrongdoing on the tenants’ part which is what has all of the leasehold reform party up in arms!  They have no security they cry!  Tenants are being kicked out for no good reason!  Are they?  Apparently so according to the Government who has provided data showing that orders for possession under section 21 have been increasing which means there must be a problem!  But is there?

The problem is that the data relied upon gives no details as to why the landlord’s have served these notices.  I won’t spoil my later blogs by going into depth here, but they don’t remove any of the section 21 orders that would still be granted post this apparent reform.  Not only that but the Government have taken the fact that the section 21 orders for possession have increased means that more tenants don’t want to leave the property which is why the landlords need court orders to gain possession.  Now that would seem right but it is not!

A number of landlords are actually asked by the landlord to evict them.  Even if the tenant doesn’t mind leaving on expiry of the section 21 notice they actually tell the landlord that they are happy to leave but need the landlord to formally evict them.  Sounds mad I know, but if you are a landlord you may well have experienced this before.  So why are tenants doing this?  Because many of the local authorities will not place someone on their housing waiting list unless they have been evicted!  If you agree to leave they argue that you have made yourself homeless and so won’t help!

Now I am not saying that this approach is from the powers that be themselves but the fact of the matter is that this approach inflates the number of section 21 orders.  Obviously, you cannot ask the tenants who have been evicted under section 21 whether this was their thinking as they are hardly likely to confirm this to a Government official running a survey but I can tell you that there is a fair amount of section 21’s that are effectively forced to court simply because of the attitude of the local authority’s.

So if there is a justification for change, in my opinion, it’s not the one the Government are giving!  Anyway, I have to go, got to send some roses on the off chance…

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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