There were three cheers from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) last year when the government consulted on its proposal for a housing court. But since then, nothing has happened.
New figures just released show that it now takes private landlords across the UK more than five months on average to get their property back when making a repossession claim through the courts. And the problem is worst in London where landlords have the longest wait of 30 weeks. The capital is closely followed by the North East where landlords are waiting on average 23.5 weeks to repossess their property.
The findings suggest that a major problem contributing to the backlog is the fact that the courts are unable to cope when landlords look to repossess properties for legitimate reasons.
What this means in real terms is that many landlords, rather than using Section 8 to evict problem tenants via the courts, are relying on Section 21 instead. It’s quicker, simpler and less confrontational to wait for Section 21 end of tenancy, which is a no-fault, no court process. And in the meantime, they can continue to accept rent. Simple.
But this is not a long term solution. The government has pledged to end Section 21 evictions, leaving landlords with no option but to struggle slowly through the court system in order to evict troublesome tenants.
The RLA has been warning for some time that without major reform and greater funding for the courts, the time taken to process cases can only get worse.
We are right behind them and are backing the RLAs calls for the government to establish a dedicated housing court – and make it a priority. It is vital to the smooth running of the rental sector that access to justice for landlords is improved and speeded up.