Change in tenancy law splits opinion among Portsmouth landlords and council chief 

Councillor Darren Sanders
Councillor Darren Sanders
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A COUNCIL chief has welcomed a potential change in rental law believing it could prevent homelessness, but city landlords have warned it will have the opposite effect.

Following the announcement yesterday (April 15) that the government is looking to ban Section 21 notices, known as no-fault evictions, views on how this could impact Portsmouth have been mixed.

At the moment, Section 21 notices give landlords the power to evict tenants without reason as soon as their fixed-term tenancy ends but a new law could take this option away from landlords.

For the council's housing boss, Councillor Darren Sanders, the change would ease pressures on both tenants and the council. 'In Portsmouth we have many people on waiting lists for council housing who are unsure about going private and won't go private unless it is easier and safer,' he said.

'When people come to me asking to move homes the main things I pick up on about them not wanting to go private is that they think it is less safe and less secure than council accommodation and they are also worrying about bad landlords kicking them out for no reason.

'This may help with that. Anything that makes it easier and safer to go private in the city is helpful.'

A recent report on housing in the city revealed that private tenancies coming to an end, but not necessarily through Section 21s, accounted for almost half of residents applying for temporary accommodation - 1,012 out of 2,380 applications between 2016 and 2018.

Alwin Oliver, vice chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords' Association (PDPLA), explained that landlords would more commonly use a Section 8 to evict tenants for reasons such as rent arrears and anti-social behaviour. 'The main reason we need a Section 21 is that it is often the only way to secure a mortgage from a lender,' he said.

'They need to be confident that landlords will keep up with payments. Having the Section 21 as an option just safeguards.'

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about no-fault evictions

He added: 'The threat is that small landlords will be squeezed out of the market. This will be bad for both landlords and tenants because rent will be more expensive and their homes will be owned by big corporations nowhere near them, some as far away as China.

'90 per cent of the houses I own is within a few miles of where I live.

'But if the Section 21 is removed from me I doubt if I will find a lender in the future. I will be forced to sell up my properties when I am looking for mortgages.

'I'm not saying tenants should not have rights. Of course they should have rights. Of course bad landlords should be made to clean up their act. I'm not saying the Section 21 is perfect but what's needed is a complete reform of the system.'

The private rented sector provides one in four homes in the Portsmouth area, more than council and social housing combined.