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Calls for ‘housing court’ to tackle repossession delays

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  • 15/01/2020
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Calls for ‘housing court’ to tackle repossession delays
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has called on the government to establish a dedicated housing court, after its research revealed the extensive delays faced by landlords looking to take possession of a rented property.

 

Its study found that landlords who want to repossess a property for a ‘legitimate reason’ are having to wait an average of 30 weeks between issuing a claim and for the court to issue an order for the repossession of the property.

This is up from 23 weeks the year before, with landlords in the capital facing the longest waits in the country. This is followed by those in the North East who have to wait an average of 23.5 weeks.

In contrast, it points to Civil Procedure Rules which suggest the whole process should be resolved within a ten week time frame.

Legitimate reasons cited for such repossessions include rent arrears, anti-social or illegal behaviour by the tenants, and damage to the property.

The RLA argued that London landlords are in a particularly difficult position, through a combination of tenants in the capital paying a higher proportion of their income on rent ‒ and so being more at risk of falling into rental arrears ‒ and the fact that the city has the lowest number of county courts.

As a result, London’s courts are vulnerable to strains from either an increase in the volume or complexity of cases faced, which the RLA argues is likely to happen thanks to the proposed removal of Section 21 ‒ so-called ‘no-fault evictions’ ‒ from the system, as more cases will instead involve a court date.

 

Consultation already conducted

The trade body outlined a host of measures that could help reduce delays, including implementing a housing court “so that cases can be dealt with expeditiously and fairly in front of a judge who is a specialist in housing law”.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, argued that if landlords feel they may have to wait forever to regain possession of a property for a good reason, such as when a tenant is failing to pay the rent or committing anti-social behaviour, then they may question whether it is worth letting it out in the first place.

He continued: “The RLA was delighted when the government consulted on its proposal for a housing court a year ago but nothing has happened since. It needs to get on and get it set up for the benefit of landlords and tenants alike.”

 

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