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Failing courts need urgent reform

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

New statistics out today show that it now takes private landlords an average of 22.5 weeks from making a claim to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening – up from 21.6 weeks since the beginning of the year.

The RLA has been campaigning for court reform for some time, and says the figures prove the existing system is unable to cope with demand.

David Smith, Policy Director for The RLA said: “Today’s figures show that the courts are unable to cope when landlords seek to repossess properties for legitimate reasons.

“With proposals to scrap Section 21 repossessions set to lead to a significant increase in cases brought to the courts, it is now a matter of urgency that the Government brings forward its plans for court reform. 

“This requires a fully funded, properly staffed, dedicated housing court that can bring rapid justice for landlords and tenants.

“Tinkering with the existing system will not be good enough.”

According to research by the RLA on plans to scrap Section 21 79% 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 to deal with housing cases

The RLA has now written to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland MP, warning that if Ministers go ahead with plans to scrap Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions, the courts will be simply unable to cope with the increased pressure.

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.

1 Comment

  • It took us 2 weeks shy of a whole year to regain possession of our property! And cost us £15,000 in lost rent, refurb costs and clearing up after the tenant . And that doesn’t include the solicitor’s and bailiff’s fees – our agent paid those as they had failed to protect the tenant’s deposit for 5 months! When we initially served a s21 (we just wanted the house back at this stage), the two months passed and the tenant said he was looking to be rehoused by the council so had no intention of leaving. It was only then when we started applying for an order for accelerated possession that it cane to light that the agents had failed to protect the deposit. So they took over the process and served a section 8 because of all the rent arrears. We did not want to go this route; the tenant had no money so was never going to stick to any agreed payment plan but he agreed that the deposit could be used towards his arrears, thus letting the agents off the hook as the courts never found out the deposit wasn’t protected. We also got a CCJ awarded for the arrears (waste of time when he had no money). They then served a further s21 which was ignored. They applied to the court for possession. The courts lost the papers! The documents were re-served. Eventually possession was granted and it then took 6 weeks for the bailiffs to go in, at which point the tenant had left the day before they arrived. The whole system is hugely weighted in the tenant’s favour and the Court system needs a massive overhaul. I dread to think what will happen to landlords if s21 really is abolished.

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