Removal of Section 21 must go hand in hand with essential court reform

In a letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC MP, Propertymark CEO, Nathan Emerson has laid out the potential consequences of failure to prepare the legal system for the introduction of Renters’ Reform measures and offered to support the UK Government in ensuring reliable access to justice.

Lady justice figure in office

Propertymark’s largest corporate members co-signed the letter, demonstrating the level of widespread concern about the capacity of the courts to appropriately handle possession cases.

Section 8 will bring more cases to court

At the moment, a third of all possession cases are Section 21 (of the Housing Act 1988) notices, which are ‘accelerated’ claims that bypass the court system. The Renters’ (Reform) Bill plans to remove Section 21 and extend the grounds for possession under Section 8 instead – which will mean many more cases have to go through the courts.

Since the Bill was published in May 2023 landlords and letting agents have expressed fears that they could end up left in limbo, uncertain how long they will be expected to wait for a hearing and ultimately, possession of their property.

So far, the UK Government has not reassured Propertymark members that sufficient progress has been made to improve capacity in the court system and digitise the process.

Rented homes are a vital part of the housing picture

The private rental sector has filled the gap left by decreasing homeownership since 2008 and the demand for rented property continues to outstrip supply in a highly competitive market. Before enacting any reforms, the UK Government must carefully balance the needs and rights of tenants with those of landlords to avoid seeing yet more homes being withdrawn from the market.

The ability of landlords to access a swift, efficient, and cost-effective justice system is a key component of a successful lettings industry.

We support preventative approaches to dispute resolution, which can potentially help more tenants stay in their homes and continue rent payments to more landlords, but there will inevitably be situations where recovering possession of a property via the court system is the only viable option. However, the current system does not provide a reliable route to justice for landlords in these circumstances.

To let board with ARLA Propertymark Protected sticker
26 Aug 2022
Renters’ reform risks dwindling stock even further

Propertymark is ensuring your voice is heard

Propertymark is campaigning to ensure the UK Government’s plans to reform the private rented sector are fit for purpose and will work in practice.

As well as writing to the Lord Chancellor, we’ve engaged with senior officials at DLUHC, provided evidence at Minister-led roundtables and made our views clear at select committee sessions in Parliament. We have also contacted politicians across the political divide and encouraged member agents to join our campaign using our White Paper: ‘The Future of Renting’ to influence and shape the reforms going forward.

Read the letter in full