Let’s start this article with a riddle: It’s a tale as old as time. Like the Capulet’s and the Montague’s – a silent rivalry, one that continues to bubble until it spews over the surface – two sides that are divided, but that have something more in common than they think. Who are we describing?
If you guessed landlords and tenants, then you are correct. Just like the Shakespearean tragedy, the highly dramatized and sensationalised dispute between the two camps continues to reign it’s head in the House of Commons, pitting housing and landlord associations against one another, and in the media. The landlord depicted as the snobbish, disconnected, older patron whilst the tenant is an anti-social, rogue, vagrant. But perhaps this feud does not need a tragic ending to reach a consolidation – and undoubtedly unproven stereotypes are causing more harm than good.
The PRS (Private Rented Sector) in the UK is growing at a rapidly unprecedented rate, as London continues to be a highly attractive metropolitan city, and housing prices remain stagnant or accelerating in certain boroughs, despite political uncertainty. This means that for a large portion of those living in the UK, an overwhelming figure of one-in-four households will be seen to rent by 2021.
Earlier this year, the no-fault eviction process known as Section 21 saw the end of it’s day when Housing Secretary James Brockenshire approved the abolishing of the act that has been put in place since the 1988 Housing Act. Getting rid of Section 21, however, is counterproductive for both landlords and tenants. Less flexibility for landlords means less investment in property and less property build – resulting in higher renting prices due to a lack of houses on the market. Government statistics reveal that only 11% of tenancies are ended by a landlord using a Section 21, and of these nearly two-thirds regained their property because they wanted to sell it or use it. With such low figures of eviction without reason – getting rid of Section 21 might do more harm than good when it comes to the relationship between tenants and landlords.
In abolishing Section 21, landlords will have to rely on Section 8 if they wish to evict their tenants. And at the current pace, Section 8 is not up to scratch in what it offers for landlords. So, if the Government is going to scrap Section 21, they need to ensure that Section 8 is reformed to meet the current needs of the PRS.
At the crux of it – landlords and tenants want the same thing: security. Landlords want to rest assured that their occupiers are individuals who will respect the property, pay their rent on time, and have a seamless relationship without issues, which for the most part, is achievable. Tenants, on the other hand, want to know the roof over their head is one that will remain stable and that their landlord is someone that they can rely on. The issue here is that neither parties are at fault for what the government is ultimately not providing. This remains to be yet another reason to be disgruntled by the current political climate in the UK – what a shock! But perhaps also an opportunity to come together?
Both sides need to be protected – and a tragic outcome does not need to occur when there is scope for mending a relationship that can be compared to a 16th-century mentality for being irreconcilable.