Quidditch and the Art of Being a Private Landlord (Changes to Eviction procedures due to Covid 19)
Written by Paul Fleming, our Civil Litigation Solicitor (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel no 01243 790532)
Private landlords don’t go into it for charitable purposes – to put roofs over people’s heads for free. Therefore the recent restraints on evicting tenants who don’t or can’t pay rent, or on evicting bad tenants, has seemed particularly unfair. The government’s policy has been to restrain homelessness in the time of a pandemic and economic downturn, and they have chosen not to sympathise with private landlords because, after all, this was a risk like any other commercial risk that landlords took when they got into the ‘business’ of letting property.
But the vast majority of private landlords are not hard-nosed business people, they are ordinary people who have invested their money in property.
It is welcome to see that that from 1st June 2021, a landlord can serve a 4 months’ notice on a tenant to initiate the repossession procedure, not 6 months. Yes, half a paracetamol to relieve that one massive and painful headache! The Notice Seeking Possession will of course only be valid if the landlord has scored through every single regulatory hoop beforehand (and there is a score of such hoops). Alternatively, a landlord must wait for 4 months’ worth of rent to fall due before they start the process with a 4 weeks notice – after which time they will most likely have to start a risky and expensive court action which might take another six months to bring to a practical conclusion (with no rent in the meantime, and the final insult of having a County Court Judgment for rent and some of the legal costs which you can’t cash in, anyway).
Being a private landlord is like trying to fly a bouncy broomstick while being assailed by heavy incoming regulatory bodgers, whilst at the same time tackling roguish rivals and their lawyers who use the Rules to their advantage aggressively, whilst at the same time trying to throw elusive balls through more and more lofty hoops, whilst at the same time seeking the elusive golden snitch of profit or the means to pay the mortgage. Yes, it has become like a furious game of quidditch! But with two major differences – this game costs an enormous amount of money before you can even play it and, secondly, the Rules of this game keep changing every few months – and always it seems to help the other team!
I have spent over 30 years coaching letting agents and landlords in this furious, baffling and painful game, and I have to say that keeping up-to-date with all the rules and procedures has been no mean feat. For advice and assistance with tenancy agreements and evictions, contact me.