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Buy-to-let broker: Losing Section 21 not that bad for landlords

Fears around the abolition of Section 21 evictions are overblown, as good landlords rarely turf out responsible tenants who pay the rent, Gavin Richardson from buy-to-let broker Mortgages for Business has urged.

The second reading of the Renters’ Reform Bill – which contains plans to abolish Section 21 no fault evictions – is being held up due to anxieties from government whips who own rental property.

That’s according to a report in The Financial Times, though a government source later called the story “absurd”.

Some five of the 16 whips own rental property, while according to the report Michael Gove has so far failed to reassure them about the bill.

But Gavin Richardson, the managing director of buy-to-let broker Mortgages for Business, said: “I want to reassure the whips that we don’t think the reforms will prove to be that bad for landlords. First, sensible landlords — even those working in the Conservative whips’ office — rarely turf out good tenants who pay their rent as they want them to stick around. So this reform will disproportionately hit the minority of bad landlords who have abused Section 21 notices, rather than the reputable end of the market.

“Second, tenancies can still be ended if there has been a breach of the tenancy by the tenant. And the government has said it will introduce a new ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords without the need to go to court. The government has also promised to digitise the courts’ agenda ahead of these reforms to ensure a swift resolution to these cases. That will speed up processes where possession cases require them.

“Third, the whips will always be able to end a tenancy if they plan to move back in or sell it — that was the real danger of this reform, anything that inadvertently risked landlords’ ability to realise the value of their housing assets through disposal.

“The loss of full tax relief on mortgage interest payments for individual landlords, and the stamp duty surcharge on additional property purchases were far more significant for landlords.

“The fact that the whips are nervous is understandable, given their own government’s rhetoric. I don’t think for a moment that Section 21 exacerbated homelessness as one Tory communities secretary has claimed. The government has needlessly spooked landlords — including their own backbenchers — in a bid to curry favour with tenants.”