Following much discussion surrounding Section 21 repossessions the government has confirmed that implementation of any alternative process for repossessing properties “will not take place until we judge sufficient progress has been made to improve the courts.” 

It continues: “That means we will not proceed with the abolition of section 21, until reforms to the justice system are in place.”

In addition the government has agreed to establish a new ground to repossess properties to protect the yearly nature of the student housing market. 

The government has said it will “introduce a ground for possession that will facilitate the yearly cycle of short-term student tenancies” which “will enable new students to sign up to a property in advance, safe in the knowledge they will have somewhere to live the next year.”

On Friday it became clear that while Section 21 would still be be abolished, it would only take place once improvements were made to the way courts handle legitimate possession cases. 

Those improvements will consist of the following and will take some time to implement:

  • Digitising the court process to make it simpler and easier for landlords to use.
  • Exploring the prioritisation of certain cases including antisocial behaviour.
  • Improving bailiff recruitment and retention and reducing administrative tasks so bailiffs can prioritise possession enforcement.
  • Providing early legal advice and better signposting for tenants including helping them find a housing solution that meets their needs.
  • Strengthening mediation and dispute resolution as a way for landlords to settle problems without resorting to courts, and to “embed this as a member service of the new Ombudsman” – the latter being something all landlords must join, in addition to professional property agents.

The second reading of the bill took place yesterday afternoon, with Housing Secretary Michael Gove repeating that the government is committed to the removal of Section 21, however changes to the existing process will need to be made prior to its removal. In addition, there is a commitment to strengthening provisions under Section 8 to reliably regain possession where necessary, lowering the threshold to prove anti-social behaviour.

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