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Categories: government and politics | buy to let mortgages

Government officials are seeking to reassure landlords that evictions for anti-social behaviour will be clearer with the introduction of a ‘wider range of behaviours’ that demonstrate tenant offences.

Giving evidence to the Levelling Up Housing and Communities committee, deputy director of the department, Guy Horsington told MPs:

We’ve heard that landlords find it hard sometimes to evidence anti-social behaviour and therefore by making the change we said we would – to expand it so that it brings in a wider set of behaviours – while maintaining judicial discretion that should help landlords who are genuinely trying to deal with a problem tenant

He added:

We are taking measures to help landlords prove genuine anti-social behaviour that is discretionary, and we’re also maintaining our mandatory ASB grounds when there has been a proven criminal offence

This is intended to be reassuring to landlords, who fear that they will not be able to adequately deal with tenants who cause disruption to their neighbours and the wider community, once the Section 21 process is removed.

Landlords will instead have to pursue a courts-based Section 8 eviction process, requiring evidence to be presented to demonstrate wrong-doing on behalf of the tenant.

The department is yet to specify exactly what the ‘wide range of [anti-social] behaviours’ includes. Could this give landlords a straightforward way to deal with problem tenants? Or, is the emphasis on ‘judicial discretion’, with some behaviours being more heavily penalised than others?

The Renters’ Reform Bill was first introduced to Parliament on 17th May 2022, and is yet to complete its second reading. With sessions ending for summer recess on Thursday 20th of July, it is likely this will not happen until at least September, when MPs return.

Housing Minister Rachel Maclean has been quoted saying the Renters’ Reform Bill was still ‘on track’ for a second reading, but with such an ambitious Bill with many unanswered questions, many have speculated whether the Government is buying themselves time by kicking it down the road.

Can further landlord lobbying bring about improvements?

One thing could be seen as a positive though – it is clear Government have been taking the concerns of landlords seriously.

Although there are still a lot of unanswered questions, those currently steering the Bill do appear to be making an effort to find solutions and reassure landlords that their concerns are being addressed.

The removal of Section 21 evictions has been perhaps the hottest topic within the Bill, as the courts system has a reputation for being time-consuming and costly (not least since the Covid-19 pandemic left it backed up with unheard cases).

Since the Government has shown the private rental sector that they are listening to concerns, landlords groups have further opportunities to act.

With more campaigning and lobbying, it may be possible to influence the implementation of a more robust Bill that gives support to landlords dealing with troublesome tenants, just as much as it gives support to tenants dealing with troublesome landlords.