As readers of Friday’s blog will testify, my irritation levels are about on a level with the English football team’s world ranking, or Alastair Cook’s batting average. I could continue with the hammering of the English until I realised that the captain of the Welsh Commonwealth Games team has been given the heave- ho for failing a drug test (well done son, the home country is proud of you, you £$^* ), so I thought it best to adopt the motto of Queen Elizabeth I of “video and taceo”. Come on all you Latin scholars; those who know me, will appreciate how I find it a struggle. Having returned yesterday from my usual 5am, 10km run (not the usual 20km that is reserved for weekdays), I was recovering with a cup of tea watching the morning news when I nearly choked on my jammy dodger. “Housing shortage sees more tenants evicted” Sky News Saturday 26 July 2015 0547hrs was flashing up on the screen. Well, that got my attention. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has seen a 38% rise in the number of people needing help with “eviction” notices being served upon them, despite their being up to date with the rent. One hapless soul was given the floor to tell the viewing public and the earnest looking reporter how he had been served with a “Section 21 order”. He was in state of shock as, “I’ve always been a good tenant and always paid my rent and never engaged in anti-social behaviour”. Well done son. You have stuck to the terms of your contract that you signed five years ago. More importantly, you are not being evicted nor have you been served an ‘order’.
What the above gentleman had been served, was a Section 21 Notice (not an order with its draconian connotations). Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 – amended- by the Housing Act 1996, a landlord has a legal right to get his property back at the end of an assured shortly tenancy. In order to invoke this right, the landlord must follow the correct legal procedure that involves serving a Section 21 Notice to quit on his tenant(s). Most noteworthy is the fact that a Section 21 Notice to quit can be issued at any time during the fixed or periodic tenancy. This means that as the new tenant, you could be handed a Section 21 Notice alongside the keys to your new home. A tenant is not being evicted, they are just being made aware under the guidance of the law as to when the landlord wants their property back – i.e. the end of the agreed tenancy period. If a landlord wishes to regain possession before the end of the agreed term, this may be possible if he can show that certain conditions have been met. A valid Section 8 Notice to quit must first be issued and to misquote our Sky News star, being a bad tenant, who hasn’t paid the rent and frequently has the local constabulary calling round (wearing riot gear) would qualify for such a notice being served. Any subsequent eviction notice has to be signed by a judge who has to have been convinced by the landlord that a. the correct legal procedure has been followed and b. the tenant is in breach of the contract. Under a Section 21 Notice, a landlord does not have to give a reason as to why he wants his property back; why should he? He is merely exercising his legal right.
To further fuel my ire, our friend from Shelter, the housing charity, hoved into view in a suitably hand-wringing, open-toed sandal, knit-your-own-underwear-from-hemp fashion. “Sadly landlords can evict…for no reason, even if you have been keeping up with the rent…” Lord in Heaven, (other deities are available), check your facts my friend, before spouting misinformation on national news. The report concluded with our Pulitzer prize wannabee breathlessly telling us the that the Government is in the process of introducing new legislation that it hopes will strengthen the rights of private tenants and help protect them from exploitation or unjustified eviction. Tenants and landlords both need protection from the nefarious and immoral behaviour of the other party. But eviction is justified by the gentleman (or lady), who is in their position because of their intellect/legal prowess/professional acievement and has been convinced by the evidence placed in front of them that the tenant needs to find alternative accommodation. Over to you Shelter.