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The Madness of Housing,

an adaptation from Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds.

I bring abstracts from Murrays excellent recent book to show their relevance to the current Housing policy.

Murray starts by observing that society is going through a great crowd derangement, irrational and herd-like. He points to the financial crash in 2008 as highlighting the difference between the have’s and have not’s. Unsurprisingly, its not hard to see why a generation which can’t accumulate capital, should have any love of capitalism. Why a generation who believe they may never own their own home could be attracted to an ideological world view that promises to sort out every inequity in their own lives and across the world. – Enter the concept of ‘Social Justice’, Identity politics and Intersectionalism, or as I simply put it, the ‘someone’s better-off than me syndrome.’

This ‘social  justice’ has grown legs  in part  to its anti-opposition question of asking if a person opposes social justice, – if so, are they advocating social  injustice.  Well actually in Capitalist society as opposed to Marxist or Communist cultures, rewards are earned. The noble nirvana of equality is claimed by the political left and right. Labour see equality of outcome whilst Conservatives advocate equality of opportunity.

In identity politics finds its caucuses in various sections of society that have secular interests.  In The Madness of Crowds,  Murray focuses on Gay, Feminist, Racial and Transexuals. But these are by far not the only secular groups seeking ‘social  justice, or an easier ride, calling attention to the injustice of their unique cause.

Murray’s fascinating book cites very many shocking examples of the extremes of which social injustice has invaded.  On the feminist issue I’ll cite just one example from the Guardian editor Helen Pidd in an article on 13th June 2018, ‘  Women shun cycling because of safety, not helmet hair ‘  with the sub title – Roads designed by men are killing women.  The departure from   the topic under discussion is hi-jacked by the feminist in an us versus them style. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/13/safety-women-cycling-roads

On the Gay issue, Murray points   to the fight for equality in latter half of last century reversing historic injustice but the ‘war having been won’ the battle did not stop but took on new enemies of  lesbian and bisexual. Later adding Transexuals.

The point being that as a subject matter of Gay rights  and feminists had been ‘won’, but more ‘causes’ were found to join the bandwagon.

The syndrome of fighting battles that have been won until there are new ones found, or aren’t any,  is illustrated by the late Australian philosopher Kenneth Minogue as “ St. George in retirement syndrome ”  After slaying the dragon the brave warrior finds himself stalking the land looking for still  more glorious fights.   He needs his dragons ( read, sense of purpose to justify existence )  eventually after tiring himself out in pursuit of ever smaller dragons, he eventually swings his sword at thin air, imagining it  to contain dragons.

Our society has become dense with people desperate to ‘man the barricades’ long after the revolution is over.  Either because they mistake the barricades for home or because they have no home to go to. This overstates and therefore amplifies the problem.

A  2017 National statistics put the number of LGBT people in the UK at 1 million for the first time. UK’s Pink news described it as a landmark figure, high but ‘not high enough’  begging the question how high would that sectional  interest group like it to be.  To use the earlier analogy, St. George wanting and finding his dragons are multiplying.

The willingness, if not eagerness of the media and academia to be seen as authoritative voices on the latest social justice campaign has been illustrated in the Guardian article above but also perversely by academics who wrote three papers, peer reviewed and published in academic journals.

‘The conceptual penis as a social construct, proposing that the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct, arguing that the penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative,  highly fluid social construct.’  Cogent Social Sciences, 2017.

‘Human Reactions to Rape Culture, and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon.’  Claimed dog humping in Portland parks was further evidence of the rape culture. Journal of Feminist Geography, 2018

‘A thematic analysis of Table dialogue conducted a two year study of why heterosexual males would want to eat at a Hooters restaurant.’

After peer review and publishing, the authors of the above revealed they were spoof whereupon the journals swiftly unpublished them and sought to expel the academics.

Murray observes that there is absolutely nothing that can’t be said studied or claimed as long as it fitted in with pre-existing theories and presumptions.

He also gives many examples of how a sector of social justice can make claims against another, but that in the exact reverse, would be claimed as sexist. In addition to the Guardian article, the Lib Dem ( Coalition ) Equalities (sic) minister Lynne Featherstone said at the party conference in 2011 that ;  ‘men were to blame for the terrible decisions made in the world economy and as a whole were the principal reason for the ‘mess the world is in’.

Interestingly although not featuring in my housing analogy, Murray gives several examples with proof that social media and Google in particular are racist and sexist, despite their stringent ‘policing’ of social media content.

A refreshing change from the old routine is also given in ‘reverse racism’ where MP Dawn Butler denounced Jamie Oliver’s punchy jerk rice recipe, questioning his right – authority to culturally appropriate Jamaican food. The anti-racists resorting to racism, as Murray puts it well.

The aim of social justice campaigners has been to take issues such as gay, women race etc and present them as a rights grievance making their case at its most inflammatory. Their desire is not to heal but divide. If you cannot rule a society then try to collapse it. You can sow doubt, division and fear and make people doubt they are really being treated fairly. Make them doubt everything and then present yourself as having the answers, details to follow in the post.

Victimhood rather than stoicism or heroism has become eagerly publicised, even sought after. To be a victim is somehow to have ‘won’ or at least got a head start in the oppression of life. Being a victim does not equal innocence, suffering from something does not make one a better person and they may be as deceitful, dishonest and rude as anyone else.  The left-leaning New York Times hired a young Asian woman Sarah Jeong to the editorial board whom had a history of social media content including ; White men are bullshit, Cancel White people and Kill All Men. The paper came to her defence citing her habit of responding in that manner to abuse she had received in the past.  Others tried to exonerate her by explaining that by #Kill All men, she really meant ‘it would be nice if the world sucked less for women’ !

Murray explains this as highly politicised people are prepared to interpret extreme remarks from their own political tribe in a generous and forgiving light while reading those in the opposing camp as negative and hostile as possible.  (  Sound familiar ? )

If the generosity of interpretation was extended to interpreting the remarks of the opposing side, less trench-digging may be possible and one of the first steps out of the madness. If talking and listening respectfully are futile, the only tool left for us is violence. That said, whilst shielding behind the ‘don’t be offensive to me’ the tactics of ‘victim’ groups can be very harsh indeed, far more than hurt feelings.

Tactics include the Cancel Culture where group pressure is brought to bear on organisers of venues such as Universities where eminent speakers are due to lecture. The sectors of the Social justice brigade will carry out a ‘forensic analysis’ of a person’s social media and find long past controversial tweets to the slightest degree of a racial or gender issue.

An example was Toby Young who was appointed to a [voluntary] position by the government on the advisory board of higher education. From comments he had made admiring a woman’s cleavage almost a decade earlier, he was forced to withdraw from  the position within weeks. Murray gives many other shocking examples, like a Asda employee sacked for sharing a Billy Connelly video, although was later re-instated.

To outline just one other, was the case of Harry Miller, an ex-Police officer who had retweeted a comment someone else had made about Transgender people. A complaint was made to the Police in Humberside where an officer visited Mr Miller’s place of work, asking to speak with him to ‘check his thinking’ !   There were no charges or argument about the legal content of the Tweet Mr Miller forwarded.

In response to a complaint from someone only disclosed as Mrs B, Humberside Police recorded a Crime report, as a Non-Crime. Following Freedom of Information, it was found that the police annually record 120,000 Non-crime hate incidents that could appear on an enhanced Data Baring search and affect future job or travel entry to certain countries.

Mr Miller at great expense and personal cost both financially and emotionally brought the case to the High Court where Justice Knowles gave a sweeping rebuke of the police action against Mr Miller.

LJ Knowles, ‘ In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society. ‘

Responding to the ruling, Helen BELCHER who co-founded Trans Media watch said .. the court didn’t define what the threshold for acceptable speech was.’ ( but it was clearly not a point of view or opinion someone disagreed with ! ) A joint defendant to the proceeding with Humberside police was the College of Policing [CoP] who had written the guidance to forces on recording ‘Non-crime hate incidents ( an incident including a report or allegation, not requiring to pass any threshold of transgressing any particular Act of parliament )  The action against the College of Policing did not succeed as the court found there were legitimate uses for the policy, if not the manner in which Humberside had implemented it. The CoP did however revise the guidance.

An interesting aspect from this incident and others, is the extent to which Social justice has permeated into policing, politics and the media.

There are a few who are pushing back against this, Douglas Murray in his book which has an absence of defamatory or hateful content, but is absolutely crammed with evidence against the Social Justice movement. Other controversial people who speak the truth that offends a section of society include Katie Hopkins and the increasingly very popular Alex Belfield, ‘The Voice of Reason’ on YouTube.

From Murray’s book, Harry Miller took the personal and expensive stance against the establishment and won. Toby Young has set up the Free Speech Union. All are formidable in their own right but there hasn’t been a concerted amalgamation. Imagine the power if another two joined them, the magnificent seven. !


Those in the business of the Private Rented sector (   PRS )  may have noticed a number of parallels from even the short abstracts of the book and I’ll elaborate further on them following.

Taking a snapshot at the PRS.

Just over 2 million Landlords, 4.5 Million tenants. About 50% of landlords renting out a single property, sometimes termed accidental landlords because they often have come into ownership of the property through inheritance as opposed to active purchase. The purchase of property by a landlord being a favourite charge against landlords for competing against first -time buyers, pushing up the price of property outside of first-time buyers reach. Whilst wrong on a number of bases, who, whether first-time buyer or landlord is going to pay more than the market value for a property. Secondly, often the type of property suited to purchase for private rental is not in the target market for first time buyers. ( too large, needing extensive – expensive renovation etc )

Only about 3 % of landlords are members of any landlord association. The largest Landlord Association, National Residential Landlord Association has a membership of approximately 80,000 and is a £6 million annual turnover organisation.

There are about a dozen regional landlord groups-associations ranging in membership from several hundred to over a thousand. Also a number of social media sites with a total readership of a few hundred thousand. Roughly, we can guesstimate about half a million landlords showing a varied interest in the increasingly complex business of renting.

About a third of England ( and whole of Wales and Scotland ) have adopted Landlord Licensing schemes much of bureaucratic and limited effectiveness. Most don’t have a property inspection element and are therefore reactive after the fact. Licensing is intended to prevent poor housing conditions, not a manner of dealing with it after an issue has come to light.  There are already copious regulations that provide for local authorities to deal with housing conditions that have come to notice.  What happens in practice is that the vast majority of compliant landlords without any issues in their properties, pay and enrol in a hugely bureaucratic licensing scheme, whilst the very small number of landlords with defective properties, well, just don’t apply for a licence, fly below the radar and sometimes rent to a category of tenant that is less likely to complain.

The only benefit that I will acknowledge of a licensing scheme is the requirement for landlords to undertake a days worth of training to acquaint themselves with what has become and is increasing at an ever exponential rate, a plethora of legislation and regulation.  To take tenancy deposits as just one example, introduced in 2007 there have been a number of cases and there still are disputes about interpretation of the legislation and its penalties. More recently there are examples of mistakes in the How to rent booklet, its versions and dates and impact on service to tenants.

The amount  and complexity ( and contradiction ) of legislation, pre-Covid, was not conducive to even a conscientious landlord complying with their legal business requirements. In fact, with the attached condition of most regulation since around 2015 being linked to the ability to use a Possession process under section 21 of the Housing Act, 1998, the minefield for landlords has become ever more dangerous.        ( more on that later )


The Tenant support groups.

These fall into two distinct camps, The first are organisations that provide accommodation and food for the homeless on a short and longer term basis. Examples are The Wallich, St. Mungo’s, Centrepoint and Crisis. A number of landlords donate to these charities and organisations and there are a section of Landlords in the PRS that rent property which is conducive to providing rental accommodation to homeless people that seek settled accommodation transitioning from street homeless. It’s a misunderstood  point that only a small number of street homeless are ready or capable for settled accommodation. Also, a small number of properties and locations that are  suitable.

Nevertheless, Landlords are hugely supportive of these charities in a number of ways.

The second group of tenant vocalists are campaigners for tenants yet they potentially benefit a small percentage and possibly adversely affect the majority.  This group don’t provide any accommodation, shelter or food.


Shelter, the Housing Charity.

Their aims ;    Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support, and legal services.

And we campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn to us for help.

( From Wikipedia )  Polly Neate is chief executive of Shelter, the homelessness and housing charity which defends the right to a safe home.

She is a prominent commentator on housing, women’s rights, leadership, and wider social justice issues, and is a trustee of Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, and of the Young Women’s Trust. She was previously Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, where she helped secure legislation to criminalise coercive and controlling behaviour.

Neate influences governments and campaigns for policy change and social justice. She has regularly appeared in the media and on platforms as diverse as the Oxford Union and the first Women’s March in London.  She is a journalist by profession. She has won national awards for journalism and campaigning.


Established in 1966 the organisation has exploded into a £ 71.6 Million business, although registered as a charity. There are 1318 staff on an annual salary cost totalling £ 46.1 Million.   The Chief Executive is salaried in excess of £120 k /year and there are 24 staff paid between £ 60 – 110 k   The average salary per staff member being over £35 k

13 Councils and 4 in the London area contract Shelter to provide a range of welfare and debt advice services. Birmingham and Sheffield multiple contract them at an annual cost of over £ 1 Million each.

A number of Scottish councils and the government also contract Shelter, to ‘bring back empty homes by establishing empty homes officers.’  The Scottish legal Aid board ( tax-payer funded ) also  contract work  to them. The Ministry of Communities and Local Government contract Shelter to provide housing advice and information services across England at annual cost of over £ 2 million.

Whilst the MHCLG are supposed to be non-partisan to either landlords or tenants, its not surprising to see the weight of Shelters campaigns to government as opposed to the poorer relation of landlords.

Considering the number of residential evictions annually at around 60,000 – the  ‘help to millions of people’  can only be understood in terms of extraneous debt advice, not all even housing related.

Shelter advises tenants seeking Guarantors to approach relatives or the Council. Alternatively they point out there are commercial companies that will provide this service at a cost.

Advice for tenants with a poor credit history, is to seek to rent direct from a landlord rather than letting Agent, as fewer landlords carry out  reference checks.

As of 2019, Shelter has over £ 9 Million invested, producing an annual return of £ 298 k.  It might reasonably be expected that some of this money be used as guarantor for tenants. Perhaps on occasion when they have to pay out, they might better understand a landlords perspective.

Shelter admit they don’t provide accommodation or refreshment and are a huge Legal and debt advice commercial organisation. ( Actively seeking more ‘dragons’ ! )

Generation Rent.

Another campaign group although much smaller, is  the National Private Tenants Organisation Ltd,     ( known as Generation rent. )

London-based, with only 3 employees and annual voluntary contributions and grants totalling £ 140.5 k  The heavy social justice backgrounds of the 7 directors are revealed on their web site profiles. In common with Shelter, they are also funded by the Oak foundation.

Although campaigning on similar issues, Generation rent can be said to be more militant than Shelter, they promote a variety of tenant activist groups around the country who’s tactics include bullying and intimidation sometimes crossing the line into criminal behaviour.  A recent campaign ‘ We can’t let the landlord lobby win. Sign up here to be part of the fight to end unfair evictions,’ is an example.

With 84% of tenants being satisfied with renting, it can be seen that the percentage of tenants that support groups campaign for, is very much in the minority.


The difference between Landlords and tenant support groups will be many on various aspects of government policy or regulation but fundamentally, it comes down to a balanced perspective.

If the media or tenant support group publish occasional accounts of blatant bad landlord behaviour, certainly such that has been through due legal process, Landlords will be quick to condemn unprofessional landlords as casting a bad reputation on their business.   Equal criticism of bad tenants is never heard of from support  groups.

This is unfortunate as it does not inform constructive debate and more especially indirectly harms the majority of compliant tenants. This might be in a landlord having to take precautionary measures or increase rents to the market rate which hitherto had been below.


Having selected a few abstracts from Murrays book and outlined some housing issues above, I will draw some parallels.

From the Guardian article and a topic of discussion being hijacked in an ‘us versus them’ manner. I would suggest that the difference in Landlords being able to accept unsatisfactory behaviour by others in their business contrasted with the adversarial ‘join the fight against landlords’ by Generation rent is an example.

On Murrays gay issue of the ‘war having been won’ but the battle did not stop but took on new enemies. This invites consideration of  housing in the era of Shelters launch in 1966. Rent controls and secure tenancies had driven investment and available rental properties to crisis point, leading to the 1988 Housing Act that brought Assured Shorthold tenancies ( the average currently lasting over 4 years ) and the ability to increase rents once a year.

It might have been thought that Shelters battle had been won, but is the organisation going to die ? No, it found new ‘dragons’ in the form of debt legal advice and Training services.  It was really St. George in retirement, swinging its sword at thin air. Shelter may point to current housing shortages and ague to the contrary, but provision that has been neglected by the government is not the fault or responsibility of the private rented sector. Any property defects found amongst the small percentage of tenants who are unsatisfied can adequately be dealt with under the plethora of existing regulation.

Murray points to the argument of those proponents of social justice, confronting any challengers as inviting if they are advocating social injustice. I see similarities with the campaigns by tenant support groups against the so-called ‘No-fault’ eviction process under Section 21 of the  Housing Act. 1988 ( yes, the same legislation that revived the housing sector at that time )

A section 21 notice does not require any stated grounds or reason to be proved in order to obtain a possession order, although the lengthy notice period of 2 months is twice as long as the ground based process under Section 8.   What is noticeable in comparison with the social justice / in-justice point, is the tenant  support groups for those complaining ‘someone’s better off than me’ are calling for the abolition of ‘No-fault’ evictions, transposing the absence of a proven ground to mean there is no fault on behalf of the tenant who’s being evicted.

Common business sense dictates that a landlord isn’t going to embark on a lengthy and expensive possession process under Section 21 if there is no reason. Its merely use of that legislation eventually and invariably secures possession. Even the government have started to use the colloquial terminology of No-Fault that has been attributed by tenant groups.  Expert Housing commentators who are not Landlords highlight the pitfalls of abolishing Section 21 for the majority of tenants.         https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/england-cannot-solve-its-single-homeless-crisis-and-banning-no-fault-evictions-is-dangerous-madness/

It will be a backward step going full-circle to 1988 at the expense of the majority of compliant tenants. Nevertheless, an extra Dragon to collect.

The learning from the Trans issues are that 80% of children who have desires to change gender decide against it subsequently. Like Gender, once past a certain stage, the damage is irreversible. So would the effects on the provision of housing and availability to rent for a section of society most in need.

The example of the three spoof academic studies showing that there is absolutely nothing that can’t be said or claimed if it fits in with pre-existing theories and assumptions, explains the leaning that has permeated to government in them adopting the no-fault argument – terminology.   The Harry Miller account shows the level of social justice ideology straying into law such as the College of Policing. The foray into law-bending has been seen recently by the Lord Chancellor who issued instructions to bailiffs not to apply legal court orders for eviction. Upon threat of legal action, ( by JMW solicitors ) the government hastily implemented legislation to  empower the Lord Chancellors instruction. ( as you might expect, as the L.C was doing the governments bidding for them. )

The aim of social justice campaigners has been shown in the Madness of Crowds to take issues or grievances at their most inflammatory. Their desire is not to heal but to divide. Generation Rent exhibits this in their campaign to ‘fight unfair evictions’ and support aggressive tenant activist groups.  No doubt Generation rent might say they didn’t mean ( like Sarah Jeong, Kill All Men ) ‘fight’ landlords although their activist groups come close to this, but perhaps would suggest, “ it would be nice if the world sucked less for tenants. “

The accepted legal processes for the recovery of personal property under the Housing possession legislation has been removed from landlords since the pandemic on 26th of March and looks to continue.  In order to give a financial leg-up to tenants, instead of making state responsibility welfare payments, the burden has been transferred to private landlords, often of single properties.

The equivalent in order to help genuine financial hardship for food, would have been to suspend the Theft Act in relation to shoplifting if the items were food stuffs. This is no more ridiculous than the sequestration of private rented property.

Some landlords will be in such desperate financial difficulty that whilst it could not be condoned, may feel no option but to resort to methods of evicting a rent defaulting tenant that fall outside legislation.

In June 2019, a 30 year old tenant in Chesterfield murdered his 71 year old landlord, chopping up his body and feeding it to badgers. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Derby Crown court on 4th January 2021. In various and many indirect ways, the government has blood on its hands for the way its dealt with the pandemic, including in relation to housing. This might be death or other less violent acts.

How to escape the madness.

Murray suggests that some generosity be extended to interpreting the remarks of the opposing side, less trench-digging may be one of the first steps.  I would suggest that Landlords willing  to condemn bad behaviour is a step towards this and that reciprocal steps are required from  tenant support groups.

MHCLG could broker this if they cleanse themselves of social justice ideology and stop knee-jerking legislation.

Tenant support groups need to accept that some tenants need and deserve eviction. Just as the majority of landlords don’t take the corner of those convicted, so should tenant groups distance themselves and not support illegal tenants, and especially recidivist tenants.

As society must constrain illegal behaviour by the few for the benefit of the everyone, Tenant support groups need to come out of the trenches and sit around the ‘honesty table’ and acknowledge that dealing with bad tenants is in the interest of the majority in rented accommodation. The slower that process, the longer the majority of compliant tenants wait for availability in an over-demand and under supply housing chain. The longer it takes to evict a minority of tenants deserving such, the longer the majority of legitimate tenants wait in the chain for rented accommodation to become available. Is this social justice for the majority ?

To the Social justice converts, the concept of a tenant deserving to be deprived of their currently occupied home is unthinkable.  These multiplying ‘converts’ have been holding the same view of punishment for criminals. The ‘drift’ of such views stretch to, providing Prisoner Family Empathy – Enlightenment Training by EasyJail.co.uk  “is for relevant employees, volunteers, family members, partners, friends and those who care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The session will provide an insight into the potential effect prison can have on the convicted person’s family, what you can do to support such families and evaluate one’s own practice and ways to improve working methods.”


Until everyone involved in the rented sector can accept that there are ‘some’ circumstances in which tenants need to be evicted, and promptly for good reason, progress is going to be difficult.

Housing difficulties are varied but fundamentally it involves shortage of supply. Disincentivising the provision of rental accommodation is definitely not going to help. Furthermore, the difficulties are not going to be best solved by an adversarial rather than collaborative approach.

As the activist Eldridge Cleaver very aptly said, ‘Your either part of the solution or your part of the problem. ‘

Comments welcome to ;  YourCase@PossessionFriend.uk




Call for evidence –   Submission by –  Possession Friend.uk

Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on homelessness and the private rented sector: Parliamentary inquiry    

Terms of Reference

The Committee invites written evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness, rough sleeping, and the private rented sector, as well as any other connected issues. In particular, the Committee is interesting in finding out:

  • 1)   How effective has the support provided by MHCLG and other Government departments in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on those in the private rented sector, rough sleepers, and the homeless?
  • 2)  What problems remain a current and immediate concern for these groups?
  • 3)  What might be the immediate post-lockdown impacts for these groups, and what action is needed to help with these?


I’d like to explain that my company are Private Sector Housing Consultants dealing with legal issues across the PRS, mainly ( but not exclusively )  for Landlords.

Possession of properties from problem tenants is a large part of our work.  ‘Problem tenants’ are actually a huge understatement, as the many cases that come to us are of serious and persistent rent arrears, damage or Anti-Social Behaviour, often serial bad tenants.

By the time our clients have actually decided it’s time to engage professional assistance, they’ve usually been trying to deal with the matter for a considerable time ( without success ) and the magnitude of the rental shortfall mandates that they need to take further professional steps.

Unfortunately for Landlords, the legal system around renting has become so complex, duplicitous and confused of the last decade and more especially since 2015 onwards, that Landlords are unable to successfully navigate the legal process without assistance.

45% of landlords own one property and it may have been acquired through a bereavement in the family and a decision to retain the property to bolster living income and also provide for a pension boost.

We have carried out work for Low-paid blue-collar workers who are single property landlords. During this Corona virus period, some of these blue-collar landlords have rightly been acknowledged by public, media and the government as ‘key-workers’

The rhetoric from Government and everything MHCLG publishes is to use the “Landlords and tenants” synonymously as being fair to both and even-handed, when actually, nothing is further from the truth. I’ll use one recent [ of many ] example MHCLG Press release 18th of March, 2020

The government has announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords. “ and …  recognising the additional pressures the virus may put on landlords, we have confirmed that the 3 month mortgage payment holiday announced yesterday will be extended to landlords…”

Radical, yes but protecting landlords – absolutely NOT. The only ‘charade’ of landlord protection was a 3 month mortgage payment holiday. The inference being that the government had somehow agreed or instructed private mortgage lenders to allow a 3 month deferment from mortgage payments.   What landlords have subsequently found from many lenders is either an outright refusal or restrictions associated with a deferment ( such as credit damage and no further mortgages issued by that lender to any landlord applying for a deferment. )   Clearly then there had been no such agreement, and of course, government is in no position to instruct private businesses [ mortgage lenders]  on their loan arrangements, unlike what has been engineered against landlords.

Effectively, private rented property has been sequestrated by government for 3 months which has been achieved by the removal of established  justice procedures.  This will come home to roost post Corona, see my opinion (3) below.


1 )

Let’s take an example of this, by looking at the first of the three areas of the enquiry support provided to those in the Private rented sector, rough sleepers and homeless.  Landlords are noticeable by their exclusion.

Of the Landlords that have sought our services, rental losses have been a personal and significant impact upon them. Many have talked about how they would have to adjust and cut back on their personal spending as a result of the tenants not having paid rent.  In our experience the rent is used as a critical part of the landlord’s financial commitments. With single- property landlords, we’ve known cases where the tenant’s income has ‘exceeded’ that of the blue-collar landlord.



Regarding current and immediate concern for these groups, I’d suggest you enlarge your ‘group’ to include all participants, i.e.  landlords who have lost rent during the  so called, no need to pay –‘holiday’ period. What a damaging faux pas that was !  We are hearing of many instances of landlords being refused mortgage deferments. ( see 3)  below.

The reason that the enquiry should be concerned about the impact of non-paid rent during Covid-19 to landlords, is that a number of them will be forced to exit the market, and a number of others simply choosing to do so.

It shouldn’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the number of private rented properties available over recent years has been declining.

I can give you an example of a landlord that isn’t financially forced to have to ‘take any – the wrong tenant‘.  Over the course of 2 months advertising, the property was let to the 79th applicant. When asked where they were staying presently, a number said with friends or family but that it was over-crowded. ( but don’t get accurately recorded )  Many were asking to rent a property that their finances clearly could not sustain.

The government’s statistics of declining accommodation is a charade that deceives the reader and damages tenants and Landlords alike, in that there is no discrimination.  In 2011 government  introduced  The New Homes Bonus, a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas. It is based on the amount of extra Council Tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use.

For all intents and purposes, this seems a laudable initiative. Its when you look at the enhanced vigour  which the Valuation Office Agency has pursued the disaggregation of council tax banding in Houses in Multiple Occupation that the sleight of hand is apparent. Much needed shared housing accommodating tenants at the most economical end of housing is being ‘council-taxed’ out of existence to produce new ‘units of accommodation,’ as defined by the additional council tax bands ‘created.’


The effect of this is either the accommodations rent becomes more expensive for the bedsit tenant, or the landlords providing these multiple units of accommodation withdraw from   the market.  Such deception is ‘right up there’ with the double-counting of PPE gloves for front-line workers during Covid-19.    Meanwhile the units of accommodation figures are manipulated from reality.



As for what might happen, ‘post-Lockdown’ – I’d think pretty much the same that’s going to happen in many other countries,  as has already been published.   I would also suggest you don’t  ask anyone’s opinion who isn’t a landlord – ‘got skin in the game’.     Having a Minister ( or Ministry ) of Housing that doesn’t have Landlord experience, is about as dangerous as having a carpenter carry out heart surgery.

A significant number of renters will be in arrears,  some of these will be genuine cases whilst others will have ‘jumped on the bandwagon’ hoping to ride the free wave.

There will be a noticeable number of [ further ] landlords exiting the market – less accommodation.

Less available resources will have the inevitable price effect on any scarce resource

There will be more ( legally justified ) evictions.

These evictions will take much longer than the 5 – 8 month current time frame          (  from issue of notice to bailiff eviction ) partly due to the backlog of the 20,000 existing cases in the system and also to the more than usual number about to be instigated for rent arrears on the lifting of the eviction ban.

County courts will be overwhelmed, not only will there be a massive delay in justice for those Landlords that have real Rogue tenants (  concept unfamiliar to government )  but this will have a knock on effect to other civil justice issues competing for the courts time. The government (MHCLG’s) request to the Master of the Rolls to periodically change all existing Assured Shorthold tenancies into  Assured tenancies, by virtue of applying Social Housing Pre-Action Protocol will have temporary effect but longer term consequences. The rate of successful rent arrears evictions will slow, but this will only serve to encourage even more Landlords withdraw and many of those that remain effectively close-off their properties to a larger economic section of society.

The only answer I can see to this is for a streamlined Possession process to be devised, and devised quickly.

There will  always be a proportion of tenants who will appear before a court on only one occasion, possibly having fallen  into  rental default, ‘relatively innocently’.   What I mean by that term is that through genuine efforts to make ends meet, they have had to prioritise essential living expenses and rent arrears have accrued.

Possession Friend - Bad tenant landlord adviceThere will be far more of these post-Corona and they will deserve to be treated distinctly from the serial rent defaulter, who prioritises 65 inch flat screens and sky premium packages over paying rent, or even passing on tax-payers housing benefit. This should be a concern to all tax-payers and a responsibility of government to address, which its not under Universal credit.  Tenants who are multiple defaulters and defendants in possession proceedings need to be separated from the genuine  Corona rent defaulters.   To understand this concept, there has to be a realisation ( quite aptly ) that some Tenants are ‘Rogue’, and play the system like a banjo.

At  times of scarce resources, Equality does not mean that all tenant defendants are treated equally, but fairly.   There also needs to be a realisation that there will always be a proportion of tenants who, dare it be said,  don’t deserve a home – until they can begin to behave as though they should do.  Meanwhile, the ‘banjo tenants’ are competing for resources amongst  the ‘relatively innocent’.  When the ship SS Corona has sunk, it’s important that ‘women and children’ are in the lifeboats.’  – there aren’t enough lifeboats and banjo tenants have no place in them. ( Read Houses for lifeboats )

The orchestrators of their own misfortune must fend for themselves. They should not be abusers of Legal Aid, let alone a second tax-payers gratuity to Shelter or Citizens Advice. In short, I think the term is ‘ Responsibility for one’s own actions’.  Our society, and in particular housing, is encouraging irresponsibility where there is no ‘room’ for such. [ No pun intended ]


Everyone taking responsibility is fair, but keeping those that don’t in accommodation they’ve abused whilst others who have acted responsibly isn’t ‘fair’.   Yet our legal aid & Shelter / Citizens Advice funding is out-weighing the scales for those that it should not.  To be blunt, its money that could be spent creating a lot more accommodation.

Tenant support groups and governments are actually placing tax-payers money and injecting undeserving tenants into a pool of ‘relatively innocent’, and genuinely innocent people seeking ever-increasing scarce accommodation. Strange notion of equality – fairness.

To summarise, less properties available, higher rents, ever more cautious landlords.   My company are seeing ( and indeed advising ) landlords to expect guarantors in many situations of working tenants, let alone those in receipt of benefit.   This is no stigma or prejudice, so let’s not ‘guild that lily’.  Its occurring amongst Landlords who have always rented to benefit tenants but are now turning huge numbers away without guarantors. If basic business principles are understood, this isn’t difficult to comprehend and blaming landlords for ‘No DSS’ isn’t going to solve the problem.

I can foresee, that ‘some’  landlords ‘may’ be persuaded to accept a Local Authority as guarantor ( and I’m not taking about the ‘paper bond-deposit charade ‘ ) but many will not. A significant number of  the tenants perceived as riskier, will end up at the Local Authorities ‘Emergency Accommodation door’.  With more tenants evicted for rent arrears, even more if Section 21 is abolished, Local Authorities will be turning vastly increased numbers away on grounds of them being intentionally homeless.

The sooner bad tenants are evicted, the easier life will be for good tenants, landlords and Local  Authorities.

In short, expect mayhem !


Chris Daniel


Possession Friend.


See below ( but don’t believe the linked article, as I’ll explain )
How many evictions would the Daily Mirror, Research survey Opinium, or Shelter have you believe ?


How many people have been evicted through Coronavirus ?

The Daily Mirror published on 26th of March, 2020 claims a Research survey by Opinium carried out between 20 – 24th March showed – 11% of UK workers, had been evicted from their home as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

As you point out in your article, this amounts to around 1.3 Million workers ( without taking account of their family members )

The Government ‘Lockdown’ that has indeed had significant effect, only commenced on the evening of the 23rd of March and certainly since that time, there has been financial hardship on much of the population, including a number of Landlords.

Its rather incredible that financial implications of the Coronavirus caused 1.3 Million evictions from the 23rd, to the 24th of March.

The annual number of evictions in 2019 for England and Wales was 67,775 ( of which, circa 14,500 were from the Private rented sector )

Lets look at vastly different figures quoted by Shelter, of 20,000 which the Executive of Opinium believes to be a more accurate representation ( having produced the wildly exaggerated number of 1.3 Million. )

Possession proceedings take from start ( service of notice ) to obtaining a Bailiffs warrant for eviction, on average between 5 and 8 months depending on the grounds being used. [ Section 8, or Section 21 ]

MHCLG have said when all current cases in the legal system, at whatever stage, were suspended on the 27th of March, the number of cases were 20,000. This figure is All cases in the Civil justice [sic] system at whatever stage, either the case papers having just been submitted with several months to Possession, to including cases where bailiffs were imminently about to physically evict. Some of the 20,000 cases would have been commenced up to 8 months or more previously.

Given that the Coronavirus did not become known until December in China and the first British casualties were from foreign travel -cruises around early February, I cannot see how 20,000 evictions occurred between early February and the end of March ( Two months )

If all 20,00 evictions commenced in February, none of them would have reached the court stage of Possession by this time, let alone all 20,000.

I note that FullFact asked Shelter where a spokesperson said,

” Anecdotal evidence ” plus our experience …researching Housing and Homelessness, and the ‘ private rented sector particularly ‘ tell us there has ‘ almost certainly ‘ been a spike in formal and informal evictions. ”

The definition of ‘anecdotal’ … ( of an account ) not necessarily true or reliable because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.

Private rented sector ‘ particularly ‘ The Private rented sector accounts for 21% of eviction, the remainder being Social Housing. In 2019, the Total Private rented sector evictions in England and Wales was 14,500.

Almost certain = Paradox.

FullFacts are right to be suspicious of these ( 1.3 Million ) figures yet Shelter seem to justify those research responses as ” there seems to be some misunderstanding of the question by respondents and that perhaps the fear of not being able to afford to pay for their housing has in some cases got mixed up with actual eviction. ” !

If I understand the position, the campaign group Compassion in Politics commissioned the research by Opinium. Researchers generally tend to produce results they believe their funders want, yet even Opinium discredit their own research in favour of a drastically reduced figure by Shelter, whose credibility is also called into question.

The Left wing Daily Mirror publish what is patently evident to be flawed research results.

Shelter give a much smaller figure of evictions which also cant be substantiated, but choose to single-out ” private rented sector particularly ” when the undisputable statistics show that, particularly, its NOT the private rented sector.

Finally lets look at who commissioned and paid for this research, Compassion in Politics. Comprised of overwhelmingly Labour M.P.’s and supporting Public figures being mainly academics and journalists.

Supporting organisations include mainly Communist rather than Capitalist, amongst which are Generation Rent, the Equality trust and The Passage, a Homeless charity.

In writing about compassion, they explain that ‘people can do terrible things because they’re unwell or under a lot of psychological pressure. ‘

( but Most people who are unwell or under psychological pressure Don’t do terrible things – flawed rationale by Compassion in Politics who commissioned flawed research that sought discredited support from Shelter )

Possession Friend

Landlords and Corona – Covid-19 virus Free Advice.

The Virus situation has thrown most of life into turmoil and various measures have been put in place by the government. Some are more helpful to sections of society than others. ( i.e. Tenants rather than Landlords )

The focus for this article is on how Landlords are faring under the measures that government have introduced. ( see below )

I’m going to set out in summary and comment on those measures and I realise that what landlords ( myself included ) need is some hope or positivity and I will get to that eventually. However it would be dishonest and patronising if I didn’t level with you and share what I believe Landlords are facing.

To use the words of the Prime Minister recently when he spoke of the virus, which is certainly apt for Landlords, is that ‘ its going to get worse before it gets better. ‘ and some Landlords, justifiably are asking themselves if its ever going to get better. I’ll come on to that.

I’ll also be outlining what Possession Friend are going to be doing FREE of charge for Landlords during the Corona period.

What the Government ( in England & Wales ) have done. ( 1. ) & ( 2. ) see full references at end.

[ But more seriously and not widely reported ( 3. ) Assured Tenancies, see later. ]

Stopped all On-going Possession cases, and

Created a 3 month Notice period for any cases [ either Section 21, or Section 8 ] from 27th March, 2020. The government have reserved the right to continue this until 30th of September, should the virus conditions dictate necessity.

MHCLG said, “At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants individual circumstances.” ( in other words, ‘play nicely’ )

What Should the Government have done ?

Allowed existing cases to continue, as they have nothing whatsoever to do with the Corona virus. If a tenant who has earned the courts decision that eviction is lawfully justified, ( not easy ) the ‘natural course of justice, which everyone is subject to, should continue. Evicted tenants would either have to find their own alternative rented property, or become the responsibility of the Local Authority if qualifying in priority need.

New cases should be allowed where the judge is satisfied that more than 2 months worth of rent lawfully due, is outstanding Without the impact of the Corona virus.

In terms of issuing new Section 21 notices, these take an average of 7 to 8 months from service of notice, so would not take effect during the virus strategy period.

Why didn’t the government do this ?

In my view, because they needed all available resources from L.A’s to fulfil another part of their strategy of finding accommodation for every rough sleeper.

Having totally suspended and removed all civil justice for Landlords, several implications have resulted and its yet again shown a total lack of understanding of the Private rented sector.

What has the government done ?

Well, to be fair, they have put a number of measures in place to safeguard tenants but very little for landlords.

A } Employed renters will receive 80% of wages, up to £2.5 k / month

B } Self-employed will receive income support. ( Landlords are not classed as self-employed ! )

C } Universal Credit increased by £1 k / year.

D } Housing allowance ‘increased’ to cover the lower 30% of market rent. [ It was at 30% when in 2015, the Government imposed an increase freeze, whereupon it started to decline. Shelter calculated 2019 that 95% of Housing benefit did not meet market rate. ]

For Landlords, the only measure was to seek a 3 month mortgage deferral, incur interest charges, [ interest on o/s rent being rigidly controlled by the Tenant Fee Act 2019 ] and credit rating damage for subsequent re-mortgaging.

Some lenders have agreed to offer a deferment period of up to 3 months for buy-to-let mortgages. This very unhelpfully, has been publicised by the government as a mortgage ‘holiday’

Such careless terminology has led many tenants to believing that landlords have been given 3 months relief from paying their mortgage and are campaigning ( even the labour party has joined them ) in demanding 3 months rent-free. Students in Bristol have been making demands for free rent or abandoning Tenancy agreements, besieging a letting Agent ( see – https://thebristolcable.org/2020/04/bristol-coronavirus-students-letting-agents-rent-strike/ )

London Renters Union are hosting a petition of 103,000 signatures to government demanding a rent amnesty during Corona.


Not all lenders are offering the mortgage deferment, and where it is available, the interest accrues and there are credit implications for re-mortgaging. Barclays, for example refuse. A survey of Landlords on Landlord Today reveal 76% of Landlords expect to be seeking a mortgage deferral.


Housing secretary Robert Jennick said, [ in MHCLG Press release 18/3/20 ( 4. ) ] … ‘no renter who has lost income due to corona virus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.’ Absolutely nothing has been done by the government to financially mitigate Landlords expenses. ( other than the limited support mentioned above that some tenants may access to possibly part fund their rent. The withdrawal of Justice however has made it impossible for Landlords to pursue the deliberate but capable, non-payers. )

The government suspension of housing justice however goes far further. It prevents anyone previously lawfully liable to eviction, totally unrelated to the virus, and a number of possession applications during the virus period that are NOT related to financial circumstances, to be postponed. Its estimated there are 20,000 such cases pending that have been postponed for at least three months.

Possession applications include grounds such as Domestic violence, Damage to the rented property, Anti-social behaviour which blights neighbouring residents. Such tenants do not deserve any postponement and neither does it warrant further suffering by the victims. Had the Labour party been in government, there wouldn’t have been much surprise, but two shocks were that ;

The Labour party had prepared a draft piece of legislation written mainly by Justin Bates and Giles Peaker ( of Fitness for Human Habitation Act fame ) that actually proposed what I set out above in ‘What the government should have done’ viz ; that the court decide if rent due between the period 1/3/20 – 1/9/20 is Coronavirus -related may not be treated as lawfully due for the purposes od Sections 8, 10 & 11. [ although still a financial debt. ]

The second shock that it was actually a Conservative government that went as far as totally suspending justice !

Government publication 18th March, 2020 announcing at that time, suspension of new evictions and no new possession proceedings ( under Any grounds ) was commented by the Chief Executive of the National Residential landlord Association, Ben Beadle who said, “ Landlord groups welcomes government support. ! We recognise the exceptional circumstances and we will work collaboratively with government to ensure these measures protect both landlords and tenants. “ !

We would like to hear from any landlords who ‘welcome government support’ but don’t all email at the same time in case you crash our web site.

The MHCLG Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants, 28/3/20 ( 1. )
In summary, its about what tenants can do, what landlords can’t, together with a reminder of our responsibilities. There are a number of FAQ’s and answers.

Who are Landlords ?

45% of Landlords are single property owners, many blue-collar workers. Shop assistants, health workers, public sector employees etc who have inherited a family property and are maintaining it as a pension supplement. ( ask the government why they do this ! )

What are the early effects ?

Comments I read on property forums from Landlords is they’re angry that the rhetoric ‘Landlords ‘and’ Tenants’ has been used again when really its all about Tenants. The typical phrase many have written is ‘landlords thrown under the bus, again’

On the positive side, there are reports of a number of tenants making effort and paying their rent or volunteering short and manageable arrangements. The English Housing survey shows that 87% of tenants are satisfied and no doubt a similar number of landlords.

The problem in the PRS is lack of effective means of dealing with the small number of can’t pay, won’t pay, particularly serial rent defaulters who flit between rented properties defaulting on £ 000’s of Landlords money. This is why an effective civil justice system is needed, not that I’m saying the justice system before its recent suspension was effective, as landlords know.

One story we’ve heard is that ‘ tenants in some cases of genuine hardship are working with landlords to make payment plans and manage arrears, as they don’t want to build up a load of debt while this situation continues. ‘

Another tenant, referring to the landlords’ ‘mortgage holiday’ stating that as the landlords was getting 3 months off, so should they. One tenant admitting that he and his girlfriend were both on the 80% top up but only to the limit of £2.5 k / month ! extorting ‘we earn much more than that’ They informed they would not be paying their £700 rent, as they needed the money for other things !

Its these circumstances that governments ‘ play nicely’ strategy is useless and legal measures are needed. The virus hasn’t made anything Free.

The Times newspaper 3rd April 2020, section ‘ Can landlords evict tenants during corona virus.’


Tales of woe from many landlords who have been significantly impacted by the withdrawal of justice and left stranded by the governments ‘help for landlords and tenants.’

See Property forum – Property118 for many other stories. E.g.


Government figures state there were approximately 20,000 possession cases already in the court system before the corona virus.

How many notices, albeit with a delayed 3 month notice period will accrue by the end of court suspension ? From the end of suspension new cases will continue to be submitted.

Currently a 5 or 7 month waiting time for a possession order will likely be doubled, and take a considerable time to work through the backlog.

The increased court work load is unmanageable ( can barely be managed at present )

A lot of evicted tenants are going to be seeking accommodation that just won’t be available.

Local Authorities current emergency accommodation figure, on an exponential rise, will explode, as will their budgets. Will this financially encourage more to use licensing schemes and will the impossible position they’re in, persuade government to rubber stamp their approval. Would it be the tipping point for a National Licensing scheme ( well, its another tax-raising scam to hit the fall-guys – landlords with ? ) God knows the governments going to need the finances after the cost of this pandemic.

This is where it might get better for landlords. Property will be in more demand and landlords will have more choice of ‘wheat from chaff’. The chaff will have to be picked up by the already creaking Local Authority, might well see some more up front payments to take on certain tenants. With the extra choice of tenants ( more of them ) Guarantors, whether it be Local Authority or anyone else, will be a demand from landlords, especially if Section 21 disappears. To be honest, I don’t ever see it going back to 2 months notice.

The best landlords could hope for, and the above scenario might help ’swing-it’, is retaining the 3 month Notice for Section 21, or possibly 6 months such as the Welsh government are introducing.

However, the less widely reported step MHCLG have take is in a document published on 26th March, 2020. ‘ Government support available for landlords [sic] and renters reflecting the current coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) outbreak ‘ ( 2. )

This two page document goes much further than merely delaying a Section 8 rent arrears claim for 3 months. MHCLG say… ‘We are working with the Master of the Rolls to strengthen the pre-action protocol requirement and also extend this to the private rented sector.’ This will help [ Read -Force ] Landlords and Tenants to agree reasonable repayment plans.

The Pre-Action Protocol for Possession claims by Social Landlords ( 3. ) [ who operate Assured tenancies ] is very onerous on the processes for possession for outstanding rent, far moreso that a Section 8 claim for Assured Shorthold tenancies.

Just a quick summary:

  1. After service of statutory notices ( Section 8, Form 3 ) but before the issue of proceedings, landlords should send the tenant a copy of this protocol ( 4 pages. Note the word ‘should’ is frequently used, but where a court finds the landlord hasn’t complied, there are possible outcomes, one of which is case can be dismissed. So safer to ‘read Should, as Must’)
  2. If the tenant agrees to pay a ‘reasonable’ amount towards arrears, landlord should agree to postpone issuing court proceedings. For so long as tenant keeps to the agreement.
  3. Parties may be required to provide evidence that alternative means of resolving the dispute were considered. Courts take the view that litigation should be a last resort.
  4. Not later than 10 days before any court proceedings, landlord should
    1. ) Provide the tenant with up to date rent statements.
    2. ) Disclose what knowledge it possesses about tenants Housing benefit or U.C.
  5. Landlord inform tenant of date and time of court hearing and provide an up to date rent statement and terms of the order being applied for. Should also advise tenant to attend the court hearing as their home is at risk. Records of such advice should be kept.
  6. If the Landlord unreasonably fails to comply with terms of the protocol, the court may ;
    1. ) Make order for costs.
    2. ) An order adjourning the claim, or
    3. ) Order a striking out or dismissing the claim ( other than a claim based on a mandatory ground.
  7. If the landlord proves its case the court must, in principle { this isn’t inspiring me, I don’t know about you ? } grant possession.

To summarise, Section 21 is suspended for 3 months, requiring 3 months notice, and Section 8 is going to be ( when the Master of the Rolls approves ) the same as a Social housing ( Assured Tenancy ) As mentioned earlier, the government have previously given an undertaking to abolish Section 21 and I can foresee this happening sooner rather than later given the alignment with Social tenancies. ( Pre Action Protocol – I don’t see that ending after Corona either ;-(

For Section 8 rent Arrears – Notice from 27/3/20/- is at least 3 months since issue not 14 days ( and this might continue until 30/9/20 )

At that stage, ( Pre Action Protocol ) all private rented sector tenancies will effectively become Assured tenancies.

So, I promised some uplift to the doom and gloom. ( well, some )

MHCLG have published ;

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants. ( 1. )

A number of FAQs, quite useful.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus ) and the enforcement of standards in rented properties. Non-statutory guidance for local authorities on enforcing standards in rented properties during the COVID-19 outbreak. ( 5. ) This suggests authorities take a ‘pragmatic’ approach and inspections for Category 1 hazards should continue, alternative inspections methods suggested ( tenants providing photographs etc. )

New Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector will continue ! to apply to all new tenancies from 1/7/2020 and for existing tenancies from 1/4/2021 &

Gas safety inspections. … ‘ if a landlord can show they’ve taken reasonable steps to comply, they will not be in breach of their duty. ‘ evidence of such steps is required.

Licensing, authorities should ‘consider’ pausing these at an appropriate point. Continue with existing schemes, taking landlords circumstances into account.

Coronavirus Act 2020 and renting Annex A – technical guidance for landlords on the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020. ( 6. )
Contains the detail of 3 month suspension and notice periods for Section 21 and Section 8.

If landlords are:

Experiencing rent problems with tenants,

Tenants wilfully withholding rent, or

Landlords require possession of their property for any reason.

Options for the foreseeable future are limited, ( But, not non-existent )

Depending on the particular individual circumstances, there are some [legal] strategies that we can use to help landlords get out from ‘underneath the bus.’

What Possession Friend are doing during this stressful time for landlords ( and during this time only ) is offering Free advice on a case by case basis.

We will advise you and can assist where possible.
To get Free advice, email ‘ YourCase@PossessionFriend.uk

subject heading “ Your surname – Corona “ and leaving your telephone contact number with a best time to contact during next 24 – 48 hours. And short summary of your situation.

( Call back will be from a withheld number )

We post regularly on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/possessionfriend

To forward your views – opinions, please email ‘ YourCase@PossessionFriend.uk with subject heading “ Corona – your surname “ [ views / opinions subject Corona first, then your surname ]

( 1. ) The MHCLG Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants, 28/3/20

( 2. ) Government support available for landlords [sic] and renters reflecting the current coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) outbreak

( 3. ) Pre-Action Protocol for Possession claims by Social Landlords

( 4. ) MHCLG Press Release, 18/3/20 Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters.

( 5. ) COVID-19 (Coronavirus ) and the enforcement of standards in rented properties

( 6. ) Coronavirus Act 2020 and renting Annex A – technical guidance for landlords on the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020

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Section 21 Housing Act, 1988.

1. Brief History

2. What is it

3. Why is it used, and

4. How often

5. Impact on

1. Brief history.

Sec 21 was introduced at a time of High ( relative at the time ) Housing demand and low housing provision.
At the time tenancies were governed by the Rent Act where repossession of properties and control of rent were so restrictive that as a means of encouraging the Private sector to invest, Housing Act tenancies were established.

30 years on and the ‘tide has come in and is already ebbing’ assisted by Tax and incessant regulation. Landlords are exiting the market and the funding or properties for sale are often not suiting or affordable to FTB’s.
Amongst the little known about Section 21, is the proportion of use per tenant in receipt of benefit, or in employment.
For Section 21 used for rent arrears ( more below ) – one of the many factors is the freezing and changes to LHA ( U.C ) The recent 16th April House of Commons Briefing Paper, number 7008 showed specific reasons why landlords have and are at an increasing rate, exiting the Benefit tenant market. Its purely a business – financial one and not any form of discrimination.
Shelter’s own submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee in February reveals a shortfall in LHA for two bedroom properties in 97% of areas in England. !

Nevertheless, Shelter and the Government continue to press for no restrictions on letting to tenants in receipt of benefit, despite a 2010 Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Private Landlord Survey which found: “The most cited reasons for not letting to HB or LHA recipients were disturbance or anti-social behaviour (19%), expected delays in payment (17%), unpaid rent and damage to property or furnishings (both 16%).

Another risk area where Landlords sometimes rely on Section 21 is tenants not declaring they have a pet, or after commencing a tenancy, keep one without the landlords consent. It was less than a year ago that government were pressing for Landlords to accept more tenants with pets. The Tenant fee Ban 2019 limits Deposits to 5 weeks rent that prevents a Landlord from being flexible enough to cover any additional losses by asking for a slightly higher deposit for a pet. ( given a tenant tactic of not paying the last months rent, in lieu of their deposit in anticipation of not having it returned )

In business and life in general, we quickly have to come to conclusions about people we deal with and make decisions based on trust. One of the tell-tale signs is contradiction or incongruity. With the government announcement by Mr Brokenshire on 23 April that he was going to ‘bring to an end so called no fault evictions…. and that the PRS must remain a stable and secure market for landlords to invest in… that landlords have confidence in the court system… so that it can be quicker and smoother for landlords to regain possession are quite frankly paradoxes ! Added with the Government use of tenant campaign group terminology ‘ no fault ‘ [ even using it on the Tenancy Prescribed Information, How to Rent, a Checklist for renting in England ]
These highlight some of the reasons for lack of trust by landlords and the feeling that any consultation is in bad faith.

2. What is it.

Section 21 allows ‘Recovery of possession on expiry or termination of an assured shorthold tenancy.
Sec 21(1) Without prejudice ( my emphasis, more on that later ) to any right of the Landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy to recover possession of the dwelling house let on the tenancy… on or after coming to the end of a fixed term, a court shall make an order for possession… if the landlords has given the tenant not less than two months notice stating he requires possession of the dwelling.
What this means is that other than a lengthy two month period of notice ( irrespective of any matter or conduct of the tenant ) a Landlord can apply to the court for possession. The legislation does NOT state a landlord has to provide any reason for the requirement to regain possession of his or her OWN property.

Section 21 is one of two main routes for possession of AST’s, the other legal process being under Section 8 of the Housing Act.
Section 8 has 20 grounds which have to be shown – proven to achieve a possession order. The first 8 ground allow for mandatory possession if adjudicated in the landlords favour.
Ground 8, of Section 8 is a common ground where at least two months worth of rent, lawfully due, is outstanding.
Section 8, is the process where a ground must be shown and proven to acquire possession, conversely to Section 21, which does not.

Some Tenant support groups have been referring, tactically to Section 21 Possession processes as, ‘ No fault ‘ when accurately the term should be without any ground having to be shown ( proven )
Whilst this may seem a small derivation or play on words, nothing could be further from the truth. Landlords legal and legitimate use of the legislation since 1988 has been maligned as to evicting tenants for ‘No fault’.

This is not a small derivation but a massive leap into another solar system.
Landlords have in the main invested 6 figure sums of their own – families finances to speculate in the property market sometimes due to the adverse pension provisions prevailing.
They take on significant risk, as with any business venture and seek their returns from a legally binding contract with significant onus upon both parties.
Whilst there is onus for the landlord, breaches which in a number of cases can result in Criminal offences ! – there are considerably less, Civil law sanctions which are of very limited effect for tenants.

A landlord will be seeking two main things from any tenant ( aside from adhering to the contracted tenancy agreement ) which are mainly, paying the rent due, and looking after the property.

For the vast majority of Landlords and tenants, this arrangements works well, with 9 out of ten tenants staying in their rented property until They wish to leave which averages over 4 years.
When a tenancy ends, there are inevitable void periods which can be months and sundry costs to a landlord, including the payment of Council tax and of course, the finance repayment of the business, i.e mortgage. These will not be recoverable.

Consequently it is in the landlords interest to keep a tenant for as long as possible. If a landlord seeks to obtain possession via a court order, it is a lengthy and expensive process
Section 21 possession requires 2 months notice, and then the MoJ claim time for average orders is currently 20.6 weeks NOT including the Two months Notice under Section 21.
For anyone to claim that tenants are ‘suddenly being turfed out’ after over 28 weeks is ludicrous.

Section 8 claims, for rental default of at least two months, require a 14 day Notice and a court possession claim which online ( PCOL ) can achieve a court hearing in some cases within 5 weeks.
All Housing Possession cases attract legal Aid and its usual for a solicitor to raise an objection to some part of the case which will usually be a minimum of 6 – 8 weeks sometimes a lot longer. Deposit disputes are raised that ( should be dealrt with as a separate claim ) is allowed to be off-set against outstanding rent. Minor issues of disrepair many times hitherto unknown to a landlord will be raised. I once overheard a solicitor asking a tenant if there was ‘anything wrong with the property whatsoever’.

3. Why is Section 21 used ?

There are no official statistics collated, which, if there is a concern, would be the logical place to start. Perhaps a targeted solution could then be found, rather than setting off like a loose canon, for which there will be innocent casualties. Landlord Associations surveys of members have shown over half of Section 21 notices are for rent arrears.

Why are those landlords not using Section 8 ( despite the pitfalls in that process ? ) it may be that a landlord has commenced the Sec 8 notice but the tenant has paid off some rent, just enough to bring the outstanding amount below 2 months worth of rent and possibly on more than one occasion.
In my experience, many landlords are slow to increase rent, which reflects their preference for a continuing tenancy, all other conditions of the tenancy being met.
Also, slow to take action on problem tenants. I suspect this more often amongst less experienced landlords who are not aware of the procedure and timescales. In addition, landlords are ‘apprehensive’ of the process.

Just as benefit claimants get savvy at finding out all the ‘rules’, so do tenants, especially serial repeat criminal tenants who flea-hop between landlords.
Despite the longer time for a Section 21 process, the mental piece of mind that is sometimes traumatic for landlords, can be worth it for some ‘perceived’ certainty of Possession.
Also, because a Section 8 claim is usually defended by a legal aid solicitor, the landlords feels obliged to defend themselves by also employing at their personal cost, a solicitor. In some cases, this can be as much or more than the rent outstanding so a landlord embarking on Section 8 could ‘double their losses’ ( not an inviting prospect ! )

Many landlords cite Disturbances – tenant behaviour ( Anti-Social Behaviour ) or damage. Proving tenant behaviour inside the property, that often the landlord is denied access to, is very difficult. Interestingly, the RLA web site advertises the method of dealing with ASB is via Sec 21. ( which practically, is true )
Tenants who breach an AST can be subject to a Section 8, ground 12 application, however this ( rarely ) attracts anything other than at best, if proven, eventually a suspended Possession order.

Landlords experiences from property blogs, interaction with landlords associations and my own clients have very, very little confidence of success in legal proceedings.
Even where a case is 100% compliant, there are on occasions Rogue judicial decisions for which there is No recourse. There is no complaint procedure ( other than against their conduct ) against a judge’s decision. They are in effect, above the law.

The only choice open to landlords is to fund an exorbitantly expensive challenge to the court of appeal, or simply start the possession claim all over. Most landlords not having the option of circa £ 30 k for an appeal, resort to the latter which usually succeeds. ( without reimbursement, of course ) It is for the reasons above that landlords feel the justice (sic) system is prejudiced Against them.

There has been claims of Section 21 being served as retaliation for tenants complaints about the standard of the property. However, legislation was put in place to address this ( Retaliatory Eviction under the Deregulation Act 2015 ) If as Mr Brokenshire suspects, the legislation is not effective, and enquiry into that should be made.

4. How often is Section 21 used.

Well, MoJ statistics show its been declining year on year !
The starting point for analysis is data – fact. Given the declining use, the overwhelming majority of which the reasons are known, ( although not specific to each case ) a period of monitoring would allow an accurate diagnosis, as the old saying, still true, ‘ if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. ‘
At the time an evaluation period runs on Section 21, re-design of the Section 8 process should be considered and implemented. Shouldn’t the aim be to make Section 8 less intimidating, not stacked against the landlord, that more possession claims progress via this route.

Section 21 Form 6A could be amended for a trial period to ask a reason. ( without prejudice to the claim ) This could be disclosed for comment by the tenant on the Form N11b they submit if there’s a desire to challenge the claim.

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