Section 21 notice 'preferred by courts'

by Sarah Ashcroft

When it comes to evicting tenants and getting a claim of possession through the courts, landlords are not well served, it is claimed. But they are not alone, as thanks to underfunding and understaffing in the court system, all types of claim take a long time to be processed, according to lawyer Tessa Shepperson, author of Residential Lettings - The Complete Guide.

With a clogged court system, she believes it is absolutely imperative for landlords making a claim of possession to get all the paperwork right first time. And she reckons a Section 21 notice is one of the easiest ways to do this, as courts are familiar with them.

"Standard repossessions where the landlord has his paperwork correct, should go through without huge delay.  However, if the claim is non-standard and special hearings are required, the current problems with the courts will generally result in long delays," says Ms Shepperson.

"It is essential therefore that landlords take care to get their paperwork in order before issuing, and I would recommend that only mandatory grounds for possession, e.g. section 21 or the mandatory rent arrears ground,  be used  as the courts are used to these and they move through the system fairly easily."

Recent figures suggest landlords may also need to go through the courts before the end of the tenancy agreement.

LSL Property Services revealed this month that tenant arrears reached their highest level in April since January, with 9.9 per cent of all rent being late or unpaid.

Total rental arrears topped £300 million last month, up 14 per cent on the previous month, according to the figures.

A section 8 notice can be used to evict tenants who are in arrears. But as Stuart Law, chief executive at Assetz, points out, it is better not to get into this situation in the first place.

He notes that some areas that seem like a bargain to buy-to-let investors should be avoided. "Those poor quality areas with very cheap property are cheap because people are finding it hard to get mortgages because they are not [seen as] good, creditworthy borrowers for banks. In the same way, they are not good tenants for landlords," explains Mr Law.

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Published on: May 31, 2012

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