I want my property back - is there a problem?
- AuthorAndrew Turner
There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about revenge evictions and the precarious status of tenants who occupy residential properties on short term tenancy contracts or on monthly periodic contracts. The argument goes that these unfortunate tenants have very little protection if a landlord one day decides that he wants to recover possession of his property. The landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice terminating the tenancy without having to show that there has been some breach of the tenancy agreement. Put simply, the landlord can get his property back whenever he wants. Many people have argued that this is unfair. “What about the unfortunate tenants?” they say.
But is there really any unfairness here? Let’s strip the situation back to basics. When he grants a tenancy, a landlord is basically letting an individual borrow his property temporarily. The term “borrowed” sounds inappropriate. It may not be an orthodox way to describe what a tenant is doing but “borrowing” is precisely what is going on. As a landlord, I am saying that you can temporarily live in my property provided that you pay me some money. But it remains my property and your interest as a tenant is secondary to mine. If a landlord one day decides that he wants to bring that temporary arrangement to an end, what is so inherently unfair or wrong about that?
Many of the tenants who bleat and whinge about being asked to leave a property have no real justification for whinging other than arguments such as “this is my home, it is just not fair”. But that argument disregards the landlord’s own legitimate interests. It assumes that private landlords have some social duty to provide housing, or even a moral duty to allow tenants to stay put. My thoughts? What absolute drivel.
Leaping to the assumption that landlords are necessarily in an advantageous position and that they are taking advantage of their tenants by asking them to vacate a property is, at best, a clumsy assumption based on sentiment rather than fact. We come back to the basic point that if I lend you something that I own, and you understand the terms upon which I am lending it to you, and one day I ask you to return that thing to me, what I am asking for is not intrinsically wrong. It is my right. Who is taking advantage of who in this situation? If anyone is taking advantage, it is the person who refuses to return the property to its owner. But unfortunately, the bandwagon is rolling and far too many people are leaping on board and declaring that landlords are the villains of the piece. But people need to pause to consider: is it necessarily wrong to want your property back? The answer has to be a resounding “no”.
Many would disagree.