The proportion of all repossession claims that have to be resolved by bailiffs in the last 12 months has shot up to 40%, compared to just 25% in the same period 5 years ago according to recent Government stats.
Possession claims will only progress to bailiffs after a tenant has received an eviction notice and failed to vacate a property by the date specified.
Recently, local councils have come under fire (from us) for turning away tenants’ housing applications unless an order for possession has first been granted by a court. Instead, local councils have advised tenants who have been served eviction notices to stay in their properties until the bailiffs knock on their door.
Results from the NLA’s quarterly Tenant Panel show that half (49%) of tenants who have been served a section 21 eviction notice reported that they had been told to ignore it by their local council or advice agency such as Shelter or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) in favour of waiting for a court order to vacate the property.
In March, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis wrote to all local councils in England to address the issue and to clarify the homelessness guidance that should be issued, following NLA pressure.
Unfortunately, councils have ignored him and we continue to have members get in touch with us because their local authority is advising tenants to wait it out until the bailiffs appear.
The NLA has consistently warned that putting vulnerable households in this position is detrimental to both landlords and tenants alike. Tenants often accrue further rent arrears and other associated costs that make them more susceptible to homelessness, while landlords could fall behind on mortgage payments as they are dragged through a lengthy and costly court process.
As a result, landlords are becoming more reluctant to let out their property to vulnerable households (such as homeless ones) as their confidence in their ability to regain possession without substantial financial damage is diminished.
Despite previous assurances that the Government would consider a legislative solution to this problem, the recent Queen’s Speech showed us that it was not on their agenda for the next year.
A little Bill goes a long way
Due to lack of Governmental action, we felt it best to take matters into our own hands.
Last week was the ballot for Private Members Bills, giving 20 lucky MPs a shot at having a piece of legislation being brought to the floor of the Commons.
While Parliament is in recess this week those lucky few MPs have no doubt been inundated with requests from trade associations, charities and pressure groups while they make up their mind on which Bill to submit.
We’ve put together a short, sharp Bill that would solve this repossession problem once and for all. Simply, it will amend Section 175 of the Housing Act 1996 to:
- Double the definition of threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days, and
- Force local authorities to accept a valid Section 21 notice as evidence that an applicant is threatened with homelessness.
These two minor changes taken together would ensure that councils will have to step in almost as soon as an eviction notice is given, providing the tenant with sufficient support and saving the landlord from a costly, lengthy and wholly unnecessary dragged out court process.
We have presented this Bill to MPs we think may be interested, but even if we are unsuccessful on this occasion we shall be pressing on this issue until it’s resolved.
NLA Property Repossession
If you are looking to legally evict your tenant(s) and get your property back as quickly and as simply as possible, then contact our NLA Property Repossession team, who can help alleviate the pressure on you, and avoid elevated costs. Find out more here.