RLA Calls for Dedicated Housing Court

By 2 min read • August 5, 2019
A statue of Justice.

The Residential Landlords Association conducted a survey in April and May of this year. 6,400 landlords responded and the results offer some useful insights into how landlords feel about the current system for repossessions. Judging by the responders, it’s fair to say that the majority of landlords don’t feel the current system works for them.

79% of landlords said they weren’t happy with the way the court system works. 91% of them believe a separate housing court should be set up, which would deal exclusively with repossessions and other housing-related matters. The RLA is concerned that scrapping Section 21 notices, as the government has every intention of doing, will only make matters worse.

RLA Pens Letter to Justice Secretary

The RLA has written to the newly appointed Justice Secretary to make it quite clear they believe that as things currently stand, the courts will not be able to cope if Section 21 repossessions are scrapped.

“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.”

Reforms Caused Chaos in Scotland

The RLA uses Scotland as an example: the method by which landlords can repossess their properties was reformed in Scotland and the courts struggled to cope. Consequently, the Scottish government had to invest more money in the court system. The RLA fears that if more money isn’t invested in our courts to pay for more staff and greater resources, the whole system will collapse under the strain.

The biggest complaint from landlords is the time it takes to gain possession of their property when it goes to court. On average, it can take around five months for a property to be returned to a landlord. If a landlord isn’t receiving rent during that period, it’s a huge cash flow issue.

Tenants Unhappy with the Current System

Tenants don’t much like the current system either. If a tenant wants to take a landlord to court because a property is in poor condition, for example, the court system is difficult to navigate and the whole process can be expensive. As a result, most tenants walk away from a property rather than pursue the matter through the court.

As things currently stand, there are different types of court for landlords and tenants. The RLA is calling on the government to set up one dedicated housing court that deals with landlords and tenants under one roof.

Whether the new Justice Secretary listens to the RLA’s warnings remains to be seen.

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