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Landlords face over five month wait to repossess properties

  • 10/11/2023
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Landlords face over five month wait to repossess properties
Landlords are being forced to wait for more than five months to get their property back from tenants after making a legitimate possession claim to the courts.

Figures covering the period July to September released by the Ministry of Justice reveal that on average it takes 23 weeks from making a claim to the court and being able to take possession of a property.

The ministry said the timescale was higher than legal guidelines.

According to the law, there should be at least four and no more than eight weeks between making a claim and the court hearing. The possession order, which stipulates when a tenant must vacate the property, is typically dated within four weeks from the date the order was made by the court. Landlords cannot issue a warrant for possession until after this date has passed.

The number of landlord possession actions for all court stages have increased compared to the same quarter last year and are now at their highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Claims have risen 19 per cent to 24,938, year-on-year, while orders for possession are up 17 per cent to 17,977, warrants rose by 14 per cent to 9,753 and repossessions, now at 6,080, rose by 11 per cent.


Urgent action needed to help landlords

Trade organisation the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) says the end of Section 21 repossessions is likely to pile more pressure on courts and is calling for urgent action to ensure legitimate possession cases are processed quicker.

NRLA argues the current timescale is too long and during this time, tenants may be committing anti-social behaviour or failing to pay their rent. It wants ministers to boost staff numbers in the courts and outline clearly what their proposed digitised system for handling cases would look like.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of NRLA, said: “Responsible landlords and tenants need to be confident that the courts will handle possession cases swiftly and fairly when section 21 goes. At present, that is not happening.

“Ministers have been warned for many years that improvements to the justice system have been needed. It is disappointing therefore that little to no action has been taken to address this so far.

“The government needs to get on and build confidence in the ability of the courts to handle legitimate possession cases.”

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