Seventy nine per cent of private landlords with experience of using the courts to repossess properties are dissatisfied with the way they work.
According to one of the largest ever surveys of landlords and letting agents, 91 per cent of landlords would support the establishment of a dedicated housing court.
In a letter to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland MP, the RLA, which conducted the research, has warned that with Ministers pledged to scrap Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions, the courts are simply unable to cope with the increased pressures they will face.
It currently takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them.
In Scotland, when similar reforms were undertaken, the Government had to invest new money and provide more staff after it underestimated the increased pressures brought on the court system.
It is not just landlords who find the system difficult to work with. According to previous research published by Citizens Advice, 54 per cent of tenants have said that the complexity of the process puts them off taking landlords to court where their landlord is failing to look after their property. 45 per cent of tenants said that the time involved put them off taking action through the courts.
With landlords and tenants able to take different types of cases to different courts, the RLA argues that simply tinkering with the existing system is not good enough. It is calling on the Government to establish a single, dedicated housing court that is properly funded and properly staffed.
At present, landlords can repossess properties using two routes. One, known as Section 21, enables a landlord to regain possession at the end of a tenancy and requires two months’ notice to be given but without providing a reason. Under the other avenue, known as Section 8, landlords can repossess a property under a number of set grounds including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Ministers are proposing some of the most far reaching changes the private rented sector has ever seen. If the new Government decides it wants to proceed with these it is vital that significant and bold reforms are made to the court system.
“With landlords and tenants failing to secure justice in a timely fashion when things do go wrong, anything other than wholesale changes with proper funding to support it will lead to chaos.”
- 6,400 responses were received to the survey conducted in April/May 2019. The research report can be accessed at: https://research.rla.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/RLA-Section-21-review-July-2019.pdf.
- The UK Government’s consultation on possession reform can be found online here-it closes on 12th October 2019. The RLA will be making a formal response to this.
- In Wales, the Welsh Government is currently consulting on plans to increase the minimum notice period for a no fault eviction. This consultation is open until 5th September 2019. The RLA will be making a formal response to this.
- As well as responding to the Government’s consultation, the RLA is also urging members to write to their MP about their thoughts and experiences of the possession process. This can be done easily using the online MY RLA platform.