Landlords can heave a significant sign of relief today after the government resisted pressure from tenant groups to make the grounds for eviction under Section 21 and Section 8, Ground 8 discretionary rather than mandatory.

This may have opened the floodgates for thousands of possession claims to be rejected by the Courts once hearings restart on August 24th. The proposals adopted are similar to those recommended by the NRLA.

Such a change would have also led to significant extra costs and time delays for landlords and made evictions much harder for landlords.

Today, housing minister Chris Pincher made a statement on the latest changes to the possession hearing regulations laid before parliament on Friday, which – as we have reported – require new rules to be followed

Normalise proceedings

“We are moving through a transition phase and it is right that we normalise proceedings and procedures,” Pincher said.

“To that effect I have had conversations with the Master of the Rolls and with Sir Rob Knowles, who have been quite clear that they want to ensure that the courts act properly to hear landlords’ and tenants’ concerns.

“I want to be very clear that should a landlord not provide the requisite information to the courts about the effect of Covid on a tenant when a landlord is bringing forward an application then the courts will have powers to adjourn the case which will hit the landlord in the pocket.. and focus their minds.”

But the respite may only be temporary – the government has also today re-stated that it is committed to bringing forward both reforms designed to increase the security that tenants need and measures to strengthen the rights of landlords to regain their property when they need to do so. Legislation will be brought forward in due course.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA says: “We welcome the balance that the Government has struck between protecting both tenants and landlords by focusing on hearing priority possession cases in the courts from 24th August.

“For tenants and neighbours whose lives are blighted by anti-social tenants, for victims of domestic violence in rented housing and for landlords who may not have had any rental income for months due to severe rent arrears built up before the pandemic, the news that landlords will be able to apply to regain possession of these properties again will be a relief.

“That said, the changes to the Court process will inevitably add delay to an already slow process. Trying to reach a resolution away from the Courts, where possible, is essential and guidance to help tenants and landlords agree rent repayment plans is available.

“Eviction is not, and should not be seen as the inevitable outcome of getting behind with rent payments.”

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