My tenant is about to get an eviction notice. She’s a lovely woman and over the past few months she has turned the flat into a proper home for herself and her two little children.
She has never been a single day late with her rent and has always let me know promptly of any problems in the flat.
In short, she is a model tenant and I do not want her to leave, but that’s not my call, I’m afraid. I have got to send her a Section 21, giving her two months’ notice to leave.
The reason I don’t have any choice is that when the tenant applied for the flat last year she failed the credit check due to her low income, so her employer offered to guarantee her rent — but only for 12 months.
Unless I serve a Section 21 possession notice, the contract will automatically roll over into a periodic tenancy when the fixed term ends and the guarantee will continue, against her guarantor’s wish.
However, I don’t want to lose the tenant, so if she wants to stay I will happily give her a new tenancy, without the guarantee if necessary.
I feel she has proved that she’s a cracking tenant and yes, there is still a possibility that she will struggle to cover the rent given her low wage, but now that I’ve got to know her, it’s a risk I am prepared to take.
The reason I mention this is that in the future, if the newly launched “End Unfair Evictions Coalition” gets its way, landlords like me are unlikely to want to take a punt with tenants like her.
When it delivered its petition to the Secretary of State for housing last month demanding the abolition of Section 21, the coalition argued all tenants should have an automatic right to remain in a property indefinitely, unless they break the terms of the contract.
While I agree many tenants would benefit from the security, I think if the Government removes a landlord’s right to evict tenants after the fixed term of their contract has ended by giving two months’ notice, the most vulnerable renters will find it much harder, if not impossible, to find homes.
I wouldn’t have been able to accept my tenant because her guarantor wasn’t prepared to guarantee her rent indefinitely.
I have a student tenant who I’d also have had to turn away, as her guarantor wouldn’t agree to cover the rent for more than six months.
The Government is already considering introducing minimum three-year tenancies, which I think will prompt some landlords to exit the market because of the extra risk.
Introduce indefinite tenancies and we could see a mass exodus, which in turn would lead to a dire shortage of rental homes in the capital.
It could also make mortgage lenders twitchy and some might exit the buy-to-let market or, as my financial adviser Martin Stewart of London Money suggested, they are more likely to tighten their lending criteria, making it harder for landlords to borrow.
Fewer rental homes will mean that landlords who remain will be able to cherry-pick the best tenants.
After all, it’s a business, so we are not likely to let a property to someone who seems nice but might struggle to pay the rent if it is a toss-up between them and a rock-solid applicant.
I have some sympathy with the argument against Section 21, but this petition could throw tenants out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Victoria Whitlock lets four properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock