Today I read yet another article in the Guardian attacking private landlords and the PRS, this one is clearly aimed at the “momentum” gathering in certain quarters for the abolition of Section 21 in England and Wales. Here is a link to the article; https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/jan/08/how-eviction-leads-to-homelessness-my-youngest-child-doesnt-know-what-a-home-is
The article starts;
The single biggest cause of homelessness today is loss of tenancy – in other words, an eviction. An increasing number of these are “no-fault evictions” – meaning the landlord need not give any reason why they are turfing someone out of their home.
Homelessness and sub standard housing is clearly a serious issue for those poor people who experience it and OneLandlord.com sympathise with anyone facing such uncertainty. The Guardian gave four examples of desperate people affected by the housing crisis. We feel that The Guardian are intent on making out that because of the use of Section 21 by Landlords, there can clearly be no fault (because they call it a no fault eviction) and therefore they are putting the blame on using this method on unscrupulous Landlords. What these commentators forget is that “no fault” means that the Landlord does not have to provide the reason (or fault) for serving the Section 21, it does not mean there isn’t one!
Kelsie and Shaun – They were living in privately owned accommodation, but fell behind with their rent and were served with a Section 21 eviction notice. Surely, any self respecting journalist would have wanted to learn the level of arrears that Kelsie and Shaun had run up, wouldn’t they? If they “fell behind with their rent” then isn’t this some kind of “fault”, and not the Landlords! Is a Landlord expected not to act when rent arrears occur?
Tim: It is clearly stated that Tim could not afford the Rent, but it looks like the Landlord is being blamed for acting. Once again, wouldn’t it have been fair to have some balance and to find out from the Landlord what the level of arrears was before the Landlord acted on serving the tenant with the notice, I think there’s a bigger story here!
Siaron: The Guardian journalist states that Siaron was served a Section 21 Notice in yet another attempt to make out that it was through no fault of her own, but again we only have one side of the story, the tenants side, we don’t have the Landlords so how do we know that the tenant wasn’t at fault ?
Pauline has lived in nine houses in six years and has been in five houses since her youngest was born! Is it unreasonable to assume that Pauline has a problem with keeping herself and her kids in a property and that nine landlords (nine properties) can’t simply be “picking on Pauline”. There has to be a reason why she has lived in nine houses in six years, could it be possible that Pauline is herself to blame for her evictions? On the face of it, this story smacks of a chaotic lifestyle rather than anything remotely do do with “No Fault Evictions”
With Pauline, the Guardian journalist stated “The family was evicted from one private house on a Section 21 notice and had just a fortnight to get out” This simply cannot be true, as anybody who has any understanding of Housing Law knows (and if you are reporting on it, you really should!) a Section 21 Notice must provide the tenant with at least two months notice and it cannot beak a fixed term tenancy. Even when the notice has expired after two months, the landlord cannot gain possession without a court order so where on earth does this journalist get their two weeks notice period from? I suspect this journalist has the Section 21Notice mixed up with a Section 8 Notice, which does provide for two weeks notice and this is due only because of arrears of eight weeks or more, so just maybe Pauline was served with a Section 8 Notice because of her rent arrears, it’s a high probability and that then would not be “no fault”, but it’s yet another example of extremely bad journalism!
In all of these examples, there appears to be no attempt to balance the subject matter by contacting any of the Landlords for their comments. Why wouldn’t they want the Landlord to put their side of the story and in particular the reasons why a Section 21 has been used, or was it? As anybody who is a Landlord knows, there is very rarely such a thing as a “No Fault Eviction” but you get the feeling that the journalist writing here would not care less about that “minor detail”.
What is happening is a concerted effort by certain politicians and journalists to abolish Section 21, alongside a concerted effort by the same people to alienate Private Landlords and paint all of them as bad and unscrupulous people and to portray all Tenants as victims.
In my experience, the vast majority of Landlords who serve a Section 21 Notice to gain possession do so because they have been left with no other choice. Faced with the complications of Section 8, where many breaches of the tenancy are solely down to the courts discretion, Landlords must look to a guaranteed method to bring to an end a tenancy they no longer wish to provide. We will be in a very dangerous position if politicians and journalists start to dictate to private businesses and private individuals when they can and cannot take ownership of their own private assets, why would anyone even want to be in a business like that?
The most amazing thing about this article is how immediately it contradicts itself, stating that Landlords are using a “No Fault” eviction process to evict tenants with, guess what? Rent Arrears, so who’s fault is that, the Landlords?