Landlords and tenants are being encouraged by a leading industry body to have their say on how housing disputes are decided.

The Government recently announced plans for a Housing Court that would speed up and improve the quality of decision-making in property-related issues, which included an initial consultation period. Landlords, tenants and anyone else involved in disputes were encouraged to present evidence on their experiences before 22 January 2019.

With that deadline fast approaching, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have urged interested parties who have used courts or tribunals to air their views in order to make lasting, meaningful improvements to the housing dispute process.

‘System broken – change a must’

“The court system as we know it is broken,” declares RLA Policy Manager John Stewart. “Slow, complex, underfunded.

“A landlord seeking possession against a tenant who does not pay their rent has to wait an average of 22 weeks between issue and finally obtaining possession, with tenants facing an equally slow and complex process, dependent on local authority enforcement to tackle disrepair issues.

“The current situation is neither sustainable or acceptable and is what led the RLA to campaign for reform, demanding a specialist housing court and tribunal service in our 2017 election manifesto.”

Anyone wanting to respond to the call for opinions can do so by clicking here and visiting the Government’s website before 23:45 on 22 January.

Recent rule changes

Since the start of October, all landlords need to comply with the Section 21 eviction rules. This means they must give tenants at least two months’ notice to leave a property once the fixed term has ended, but they are not required to give a reason for the eviction.

“Change is needed,” adds Mr Stewart, “Not only could the introduction of a new court help speed up the current court process – improving access to justice for landlords and tenants – it could also tick another box for the Government in rooting out criminal landlords and giving greater confidence to landlords to offer longer family-friendly tenancies.”

Housing cases can currently be heard in a variety of courts – county, first-tier Tribunals, magistrates or even the High Court. It’s a confusing situation that adds time and effort to a process that landlords and tenants can find stressful.

David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, said: “The creation of a Housing Court would be a huge leap forward for landlords, tenants and agents alike, and have a wholly positive impact on the sector.”