RLA calls for Housing Court to replace ‘broken’ disputes system

 

A leading industry body says it is time for a Housing Court system to replace the current ‘broken’ process around property disputes that frustrates landlords and tenants alike.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has submitted findings from its members to the government consultation ‘Considering the case for a Housing Court’, which closed a few days ago.

The RLA told the government that its members are “universally dissatisfied” with the possession process, with one saying it took four years to regain their home and that they lost £10,000 in trying to do so.

Legal process ‘lengthy and unsatisfactory’

Housing cases are currently 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. The RLA says it takes landlords an average of 22 weeks to take possession of their property if a tenant is not paying their rent while the Ministry of Justice has found that, on average, a successful possession case takes 18 weeks.

Either timeframe is not good for a landlord, and their feelings at the current situation are encapsulated in the RLA finding that 91% support the creation of a specialist ‘housing court’.

County Court fees are felt to be too high, so the RLA’s solution is to privatise the County Court bailiff. This, they feel, would improve the service by having rival companies compete for work.

“The court system as we know it is broken. Slow, complex, underfunded,” said RLA Policy Manager John Stewart in a recent blog.

“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.”

The RLA survey saw responses from 1,750 of its members, and here is a snapshot of some of the comments submitted to the government consultation.

  • “Complicated, very costly, the period from start to finish can take up to 6 months for final eviction.”
  • “Court overwhelmed with applications bailiffs too busy.”
  • “Absolutely appalling. Extremely stressful. The process takes far too long and inevitably the tenant stops paying any rent as soon as they receive the notification.”

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Legal scales and a hammer yesterday

RLA calls for Housing Court to replace ‘broken’ disputes system

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