The Government has recently released their response to the consultation on “Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector”. The paper makes various observations on the consultation process that was undertaken and introduces a “generational change” by repealing the ability of a landlord to serve a s21 Notice providing the tenant with 2 months to vacate the property in question.
The tone of the response suggests that the Government is seeking to evolve, dramatically, the area in a way which works for both landlords and tenants. Our litigation team receive regular instructions from landlords to recover possession of privately rented properties for both fault based and no-fault based reasons. What has become clear to the team is that the approach taken by the courts is heavily weighted in favour of the tenants.
One case study of this area concerns a client who is a landlord and wants to take back possession as the tenant has failed to pay rent. The appropriate notices were served in accordance with the terms of the agreement and possession proceedings issued. The tenant did not produce a defence. At the hearing, the tenant attended with a solicitor he had instructed that day and a defence was handed to our solicitor. The parties discussed their options and a consent order for the repayment of the rent arrears, which were already in excess of £15,000, was signed by both parties. The hearing was, therefore, adjourned. The tenant did not make any payments as required under the consent order so the client applied to reinstate the hearing. Again, the tenant chose not to take any action until the date of the next hearing when he instructed a barrister to attend with a witness statement that had been prepared and signed on the day of the hearing. Once again, the court adjourned the hearing despite failure to pay the rent under the tenancy agreement or court order. By playing the system, the tenant has lived rent free in the property for over 16 months and rent arrears are now in the tens of thousands.
The landlord in this matter is highly unlikely to see this money ever and yet the courts and government is not addressing the issue. This recent response suggest a revolution of the area but dramatic steps are necessary to even up the playing field. Not all landlords are mean, faceless entities and when they start losing thousands of pounds that can never be recovered because the system favours the tenant the landlord loses their faith in the system. This area needs change, but if the change removes the landlord’s ability to end a tenancy on a no-fault basis then dramatic change is necessary to bring balance.
Our litigation team acts for landlords of both residential and commercial properties with large portfolios or one off investment properties. If you have an issue that you wish to discuss then do contact a member of the team who will assist you further.