Campaigns Regulation and Enforcement

Court process “unsatisfactory and confusing” for tenants and landlords

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The RLA is calling for possession processes in two different courts to be aligned to make life easier for landlords.

The association is responding to a government consultation on possession orders and wants the enforcement processes in both County Court and the High Court to use a single notice of possession.

It believes the current process is ‘unsatisfactory and confusing’ and that making the changes will make it easier for landlords to use High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce possession orders.

How do landlords gain possession?

Landlords apply to gain possession of a property through the County Court and to enforce a possession order, a landlord must – in most cases – use a County Court bailiff.

The county court bailiffs will send a form to the occupiers explaining what day they will be evicted on.

This can be an extremely slow process, with 48% of landlords responding to an RLA survey saying they have suffered delays waiting for county court bailiffs to possess the property.

If a tenant is already behind with the rent these further delays can have a big financial impact for landlords.

Enforcement via High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) although more expensive, is much faster, but under the current system it can be very difficult to get permission to enforce in this way.

If a landlord wishes to use a HCEO, instead of a County Court bailiff, they must have the permission of a County Court judge for the case to go to the High Court – which is not guaranteed.

If it is transferred, the High Court must be satisfied that occupiers have been sufficiently notified of proceedings, although this does but this does not require the occupiers to be told which day they will be evicted.

This wastes the valuable time of High Court Masters (procedural judges) and prevents occupiers knowing exactly when they will be expected to have left the property.

What does the RLA want to see changed?

In the RLA’s consultation response, which you can read here, the association calls for procedures to be aligned by using a standardised notice sent to the property seven days before repossession.

This would:

  • Remove the need for judges to oversee the process, allowing landlords to transfer easily between the two options for enforcement
  • Allow occupiers to know exactly when the property will be repossessed

This week, the Ministry of Justice published fresh data on the time it takes for landlords to gain possession of their property, through the courts.

The new figures show that show the average time for a private landlord to make a claim to the courts to repossess a property to it happening, was 17.3 weeks.

Have your say on planned possession housing reforms

Last month the Government announced that is plans to consult on abolishing Section 21. Soon after this announcement, the RLA launched a major survey, collecting the views and experiences of landlords on the possession process. It has been the largest response to an RLA survey to date. To have your say, please follow this link.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.