Calls for new housing courts are being stepped up as a new survey reveals the full extent of frustration among landlords who’ve tried to repossess a property.
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A total of 79 per cent of landlords with experience of using the existing process say they’re dissatisfied with the way the courts work.
It currently takes an average of more than five months for a property to be returned to a landlord from the time a court application is made. This is according to official figures from the Ministry of Justice, which cover the first three months of this year.
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Dedicated housing courts
The Residential Landlords Association has said that ‘simply tinkering’ with the existing system won’t help landlords.
It’s calling on the government to set up a single, dedicated housing court that’s “properly funded and properly staffed”.
Currently, landlords can repossess a property using two routes. The first is known as Section 21. This enables landlords to regain possession at the end of a tenancy by giving two months’ notice if they don’t give a reason.
The second route is known as Section 8 and allows landlords to repossess a property in a number of set situations, including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
Although the government has yet to give full details or a timeframe, it has announced that it intends to ban Section 21 evictions. Such a ban would put increased pressure on existing courts to deal with evictions.
A dedicated housing court would help to ease that pressure and cut the length of time it takes for a landlord to repossess their property.
Landlords support housing courts
The survey by the Residential Landlords Association found that 91 per cent of landlords would support the establishment of a dedicated housing court.
David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “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 go wrong, anything other than wholesale changes with proper funding to support it will lead to chaos.”
Ban on Section 21 evictions
The reason the government has given for its proposed ban on Section 21 is to ‘provide greater certainty for tenants’ who will no longer face the risk of being evicted at short notice with no reason.
Under the proposals, landlords will have to provide a concrete and evidenced reason that’s already specified in law for bringing tenancies to an end.
This would include landlords being able to regain their home should they wish to sell it or move into it.