The Government claims that the Renters Reform Bill will also introduce ‘more comprehensive possession grounds so landlords can still recover their property’ and make it easier to repossess where tenants are at fault, such as with anti-social behaviour (ASB).
Real Estate solicitor, Ian Narbeth, says the change the Bill introduces is a “tiny molehill” that will not lead to significant additional numbers of anti-social tenants being evicted. Landlords will be able to evict for behaviours ‘capable of causing’ a nuisance or annoyance as opposed to behaviours ‘likely to cause’ a nuisance or annoyance. Although the Government says this means that a wider range of tenant behaviours can be considered in court, he argues that this misses the point. “Lawyers may argue about the subtle change in wording but most cases don’t get to court and by the time they do the behaviour is serious and anti-social not just capable of being so. Until now landlords served section 21 notices on anti-social tenants and did not need to go to court."
He argues that many victims of ASB are frightened to give evidence. With the massive backlog in cases it can be many months before cases are heard. Witnesses may fear harassment during that time by an aggressive neighbour and their family and friends. Landlords can give no guarantee of succeeding and witnesses will fear reprisals, especially if the eviction fails. “Abolishing section 21 means troublemakers must have their day in court and many victims will choose to suffer in silence or else leave their homes rather than give evidence. The Government will be helping nuisance tenants at the expense of the weak and vulnerable, which is the opposite of what it is claiming.”
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