Making the case for a new housing court

In June, we blogged about the idea of setting up a new, dedicated housing court. This has worked well in Scotland, where landlords can take action quickly when faced with rogue tenants. And, according to one of the biggest-ever surveys of landlords and letting agents done by the Residential Landlords Association, it would go down well here too.

The RLA says a massive 79% of private landlords with experience of using the courts to repossess properties are dissatisfied with the way they work. And 91% of landlords support the idea of setting up a new housing court.

Last week we urged you to get behind our campaign to keep Section 21. If it is scrapped, as the government plans, the existing court system will be completely overloaded with repossession cases. It already takes an average of five months to repossess a property – and this will get worse if nothing is done.

And it’s not just landlords who are unhappy with the way the system works – or doesn’t. Separate research from Citizens Advice proves that tenants too are put off taking landlords to court by the existing legal system.

More than half of tenants the consumer body spoke to, said the process is too long and too complicated. This stops people taking action when they are stuck with a bad landlord or a poorly maintained property. A properly funded and staffed housing court could go a long way towards solving the problem.

Everyone living and working in the rental sector is facing the most far-reaching changes we have seen for decades. As the RLA, rightly says, if the new Government decides it wants to go ahead with its proposals, “significant and bold” reforms need to be made to our court system. Anything else will lead to chaos.

Chris Norris from the National Landlords Association is calling for any improvements to the system to be in place, properly funded and fully functional before the government “even contemplates” changes to Section 21.

Even better; improve the court system so that it functions for everyone – and leave Section 21 alone.

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