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Courts failing to follow rules in housing cases

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Courts across the country are failing to follow their own rules when it comes to the speed of dealing with repossession cases.

According to the civil procedure rules which provide a code to ensure courts deal with cases justly, the courts are expected to ensure cases are “dealt with expeditiously and fairly”.

The rules show that from a landlord making a claim through the courts to repossess a property to it actually happening should be around nine weeks.

The government’s statistics however show that it is taking over 22 weeks.

With the government consulting on ending the use of Section 21 repossessions in the private rented sector the number of repossession cases going through the courts will increase substantially.

Although the consultation commits the Government to developing “a simpler, faster process through the courts” for repossession cases, no detailed plans have been made.

The RLA argues that what is needed is the development of a new, properly funded housing court to speed up and improve justice for landlords and tenants.

This needs to be matched by a clear commitment to ensure that landlords have to wait no more than 10 weeks between submitting a case for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “Whilst the government talks the talk on court reform it is failing to walk the walk.

“Words alone will not improve the court system for tenants or for landlords.

“What is needed is a firm plan for a fully funded housing court which reverses cuts which have made access to justice more difficult and take far too long.

“Tinkering with the existing system is simply not good enough.

“Without such fundamental changes the government’s plans to reform the way landlords can repossess properties are dead on arrival.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • There should be NO Court process required to get rid of rent defaulting tenants.
    If the tenant hasn’t paid then the LL should be able to remove the tenant with police assistance if needed.
    So 2 month’s rent default which for mist tenancies is 1 month and I day.
    The 2nd day the LL removes the tenant with Court action required.
    If the tenant is able to reduce rent arrears to 1 month on the day the LL arrives to remove the tenant then fair enough.
    The tenant then knows that if they default for a 2nd month the LL will remove them unless rent arrears are reduced to one month.
    This way rent defaulting tenants will know they can only get away with rent default by one month.
    Most LL will have at least a deposit to cover the rent default.
    At least this would stop tenants running up large rent arrears which no LL has any hope of recovering.
    Using such a speedy tenant removal process for only rent defaulting will encourage many LL to take on the riskier type of tenant.
    It would also considerably reduce court cases as most rent defaulting cases involve court action.
    Any other type of eviction reason should go through normal court processes.
    A tenant should have to prove to a LL that they have reduced arrears to one month.

  • Portsmouth County Court must be an exception. Late on Friday I delivered papers for a repossession with the appropriate fee but on the following Tuesday it was no longer necessary as the Council had agreed to rehome the tenant and her family.
    I immediately cancelled the request and asked a refund of the Fee but as they had allocated a case number ( on the Monday) this was refused despite nothing actually being done. It is obviously difficult to reclaim this sum from the Tenant when nothing will be issued. I never dreampt the Court to be so efficient and had expected the action to take many days,

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