Repossession: Can you get your property back?

To evict or not to evict? All about Section 21, Section 8, and the alternatives, plus the latest industry news

In our most recent webinar, we were joined by property litigation solicitor Adrian McClinton, who broke down everything you need to know about Section 8, Section 21 and dispute resolution.

You can watch the recording below or skim through our summary.

What are Section 21 and Section 8?

In essence, these notices are the legal means you use to evict your tenant:

  • A Section 21 notice, if it’s served validly, entitles a landlord to obtain possession of the property if the tenant does not move out at the end of the notice period. And, crucially, the landlord doesn’t need to give a reason, and the court has to grant a possession order.
  • A Section 8 notice is served on a tenant when there are certain grounds for eviction, as prescribed within the legislation central to the Housing Act 1988. If those grounds exist, a landlord can serve a Section 8 notice on the tenant.

Which is better – Section 21 or Section 8?

“I think most landlords prefer to serve a Section 21 notice,” Adrian says. “Yes, it takes two months to expire, but you can go through what’s known as the accelerated possession procedure, so that’s where you don’t need a court hearing and instead a judge will go through the paperwork, and if you’ve ticked all the boxes – which there are a lot of these days! – then you should get a possession order. 

And some landlords choose to serve both. “That means that if the Section 8 grounds disappear, the landlord can still rely on the Section 21 notice,” Adrian explains.

So there is no better or worse option when it comes to these notices, it’s about which is the best fit for the circumstances.

Cladding Crisis. London, dawn

The loss of Section 21

Despite a rumour that the government could be changing its mind about scrapping Section 21, it has been confirmed that it will still be going. 

This has been on the cards for a long time, but we still don’t know when this may happen. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball, so all we can suggest is keeping an eye on the news – and on Mashroom, of course! 

However, once Section 21 does go, landlords will have other options to hand. As Adrian points out: 

When Section 21 goes, landlords will have to provide a valid reason for why they want vacant possession of the property, but the grounds on which landlords can seek possession of a property will be expanded. For instance, there will now be a ground for if the landlord wants to sell the property, or if the landlord wants to move into that property or wants members of their family to move into it.

Are there still court delays for evictions?

The pandemic and its lockdowns have significantly impacted courts, says Adrian. “It’s starting to work its way through now, but there are serious backlogs,” he explains, and it’s a bit of a postcode lottery, with densely populated places often the slowest.

So yes, if you’re based in London, you are likely to still be experiencing significant delays. However, if you’re in a smaller town or rural area, it’s likely to be pretty much back to normal for you. 

Is dispute resolution an eviction alternative?

Granted, sometimes an eviction is the only way to regain control and certainty over your property. But with the average repossession process taking just shy of a year and costing about £3,000 (plus any lost rent, of course), could some problems be resolved a cheaper – and easier – way?

As well as being a property litigation solicitor, Adrian is head of dispute resolution at his law firm, so he has some helpful advice on this front too, as he understands how evictions affect the bottom line:

The vast majority of landlords own a property for investment purposes, so they’re looking for a return on their investment. Avoiding void periods is a no-brainer, therefore. When you remove a tenant from a property a void period is inevitable.

Rent arrears is the most common issue by far, Adrian reports, but some of these costly cases could have been resolved really simply if approached early:

QUOTE: It could be as simple as a glitch with the standing order for the rent payments. I think it’s really important for a landlord to make early contact with the tenant wherever there is a breach of the tenancy.

Communication is also key when it comes to the landlord-tenant relationship, which Adrian is keen to point out, so get in touch with the tenant the moment you discover something is less than ideal and find why there is a problem.

It’s also useful for a landlord to have Rent Guarantee Insurance, which means that if a tenant doesn’t pay, you won’t be out of pocket. This is a great reassurance for landlords and can make resolving things with your tenant easier as some of the pressure is off.

row houses, renting, buildings in a row

Is the mortgage chaos behind us?

As the mortgage market is front of many landlords’ minds, we spoke to Robert Winfield, one of Mashroom’s mortgage advisors, for a mini briefing to keep you up to date:

  • Mortgage products are returning to the shelves, slowly. The picture isn’t great, but products are coming back onto the market. But, Robert points out, a few lenders remain tentative and are withholding their products, particularly their buy-to-let ranges.
  • Get advice if you are remortgaging. Robert is very clear that no landlord should approach remortgaging without the support of a market expert. “Speak with us,” he says. “The team here at Mashroom have a lot of experience under our belts and after a brief chat we can point you in the right direction.”
  • Buying a new property? Caution is key. “We’ve had a few conversations with landlords over the last few weeks where it’s no longer been feasible for them to expand their portfolio right here and now, whereas 6 months ago it was a no-brainer, a walk in the park. Now, it really has to be the right property.”

To talk through your options with a mortgage advisor, book a call today.

Have you joined our community yet?

Our Video Content Creator Robyn Wilson is the latest team member to talk about how inspired she is by the Mashroom Facebook community: “It’s a private group where over 3,000 landlords can ask for advice, support each other and share stories, and generally have a chat. And Mashroom’s there alongside them to help,” she says.

Robyn takes the most popular topics and pressing questions and turns them into videos for people to watch, so you can catch up on the latest while you cook, clean or enjoy your morning coffee.Robyn can also be seen regularly on Mashroom’s TikTok, sometimes in dance mode! Who knows what other Mashroom team members could be dancing on TikTok next?

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