The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have announced the latest figures of landlord possession, and the number of Section 21 no-fault evictions have reduced.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, believes this could be due to changes brought about by the Deregulation Act 2015. However, he says it is not likely to last, and will no doubt increase again due to the changes to tax liabilities. There were almost 5000 fewer cases in 2017 than in 2016.
A Section 21 no-fault eviction is often put in place to allow the court to make orders without the involved parties having to be present at a hearing, simply by considering the submitted written evidence. It can also be known as an accelerated possession procedure. In theory, this should speed up the process of a claim.
Overall, we have seen a drop in possession actions across various areas in 2017, compared to 2016. The MoJ’s Landlord and Mortgage Possession Statistics (October – December 2017) has revealed that claims are down 3% and orders are down by 6%. Warrants are down 5% and repossessions down by 12%.
Looking at the amount of claims brought by social and private landlords under the standard procedure, we can see there is little change, showing a 1.4% and 5.4% decrease respectively. However, looking at the accelerated possession cases, they have dropped despite a previous moderate climb. In 2017 they saw a drop of 13.7%, with a total of 29,611 cases as opposed to the 34,303 in 2016.
Rent arrears have been the cause of most of Landlord Action’s cases, with them seeing 24 out of 33 Landlords seeking their services for such issues. It can be a frustrating situation for landlords to find themselves in, and often intervention by the court cannot be avoided. Accelerated possession procedures are an option, and are often favoured by landlords. In fact, 61% of the landlords who used Landlord Action’s services opted for such methods. It can be seen as a faster way to recover their property, in order for them to let it out to the next tenants, and reduce any further loss of potential rent.
However, accelerated procedures are becoming increasingly difficult due to new legislation, according to Shamplina. There are still many landlords who are unaware of how the Deregulation Act binds them to legal obligations, he points out. This act came into place in October 2015, and has so far caused delays and hindered any chances landlords’ may have to use the accelerated procedure.
Shamplina had this to say on the matter: “In a number of recent cases, we’ve found that landlords have not provided tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate and a Gas Safety Certificate before the tenancy began, or they did not protect their tenant’s deposit, all of which are legal requirements in order to serve a section 21 notice. By the time landlords come to us, the relationship with the tenant has usually broken down making it harder to gain access to the property and deal with these issues, meaning the landlord can’t use a section 21.”
As an extra precaution, it can be worth considering obtaining Rent Guarantee Insurance, as this will protect you if your tenants ever do fall into arrears. For more information on this protection, check out Just Landlords’ Rent Guarantee & Legal Expenses Insurance.
In October to December 2017, MoJ witnessed accelerated landlord possession cases that took 7.3 weeks to advance from claim to order, in comparison to the 8.2 weeks that private landlord cases took. However, when looking at how long it took for them to progress from claim to possession warrant, the accelerated took 15.9 weeks, and the private cases were completed in 14.4 weeks. Again, looking at progress from claim to repossession by county court bailiff, accelerated cases took an average of 23.1 weeks, whereas those for private landlords took 21.8 weeks.
It is possibly time to reconsider the process behind the accelerated cases, if we are seeing them take longer to reach completion than other cases. Shamplina has also stated: “The term ‘accelerated’ is not really an appropriate name for this procedure, as the statistics show, it is not actually quicker any more. Despite this, I predict we will see another rise in use of accelerated possession procedure over the next couple of years as more landlords are forced to sell of properties off the back of rising interest rates and increased tax liabilities.”