It’s misleading to say that tenants are being evicted from their homes for ‘no reason’.
That’s the view of Mark Pilling, managing director of Spicerhaart corporate sales, who was responding to Wednesday’s BBC Panorama documentary about Section 21 notices, which appeared to suggest that the system needed to change.
Pilling said that while the programme raised some “very important issues”, it didn’t reflect his firm’s experiences and he warned against scrapping Section 21.
He said: “The truth is there is always a reason why a landlord ends a tenancy and I think it is misleading to say that tenants are being evicted for ‘no reason’”.
He added: ““In our experience, the reasons for a Section 21 are usually either because the tenants have missed rent, they are late on rent or they are not treating the house well.
“The landlord may also need to use Section 21 because they are struggling financially and need to sell the property.
“Where tenants are being evicted through no fault of their own but rather because of their landlords’ circumstances, it must be very upsetting for them.
“However, if landlords themselves are having financial difficulties, scrapping Section 21 could leave them trapped.
“With the changes in buy-to-let tax relief, a number of landlords will see their income reduce whilst their borrowing costs will likely increase, this coupled with potential payment difficulties linked to universal credit changes means many will struggle.
“There is a housing shortage in the UK, so the PRS is becoming more and more important, and while I completely understand the reasons why there are calls for Section 21 to be scrapped, I fear it could actually compound the problem.”
Residential Landlords Association (RLA) policy director David Smith added: “Most tenancies are ended by the tenant, rather than the landlord.
“Tenants are increasingly living longer in their private rented homes, with the average length of occupancy now being almost four years.
“It is also illegal for landlords to evict a tenant simply because they have raised a complaint about standards in a property.
“The vast majority of landlords have no interest in getting rid of any tenant who respects the property and pays their rent.
“If there is a problem with a tenant, using the process known as Section 8 which requires landlords to outline the reasons for seeking to regain possession of their property, can take over 40 weeks.
“This is not sustainable for anyone.”
* Separately, tenants who claimed their privacy was invaded after they were shown being evicted on Channel 5 show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away have won a high court legal battle for damages.
Shakir Ali and Shahida Aslam, who have two children, were caught by surprise by the landlord and filmed by Channel 5 for the show, according to the Guardian.
The episode showed shots of Ali having just woken up in his pyjamas, as well as shots of the couple’s bedroom and their children’s rooms and of family possessions stored in bags.
It also showed the landlord’s son “humiliating” the couple and revealed they were unemployed and receiving housing benefit.
The show was watched 9.6m times on Channel 5 over 18 months and resulted in the couple’s daughter being bullied at school.
Law firm Hamlins successfully argued that the family had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Channel 5 defended its filming tactics as being in the public interest as the show addressed issues including real-life issues such as personal debt.
During the show, one of the eviction officers, Paul Bohill, tells the landlord to provoke the tenants and says: “Say whatever you like, just give it some wellie”.
He is also twice heard saying it made “good television”.
The couple was awarded £20,000 and Mr Justice Arnold said Channel 5 went too far.
A statement from Channel 5 said: “Channel 5 welcomes the judge’s assessment, which recognises that the programme is made in good faith and in the public interest.
“We are encouraged by the judge’s acceptance that Channel 5′s editorial discretion extended to the presentation of the story, the tone of the programme and the material included, providing a fair and accurate account of the eviction of the claimants.
“We also note that the case’s final verdict was based on the specific facts related to a segment involving the Ali family and not the series in general.”