The majority of landlords in the UK’s private rented sector with experience of using the courts to repossess properties are dissatisfied with the way they work, new research has found.
Some 79% are unhappy with the process and 91% support the creation of a dedicated housing court, according to one of the largest ever surveys of landlords and letting agents by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
In a letter to the new Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, the RLA has warned that with Ministers pledged to scrap Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions, the courts are simply unable to cope with the increased pressures they will face.
It currently takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them.
In Scotland, when similar reforms were undertaken, the Government had to invest new money and provide more staff after it underestimated the increased pressures brought on the court system.
It is not just landlords who find the system difficult to work with. According to previous research published by Citizens Advice, 54% of tenants have said that the complexity of the process puts them off taking landlords to court where their landlord is failing to look after their property. Some 45% of tenants said that the time involved put them off taking action through the courts.
With landlords and tenants able to take different types of cases to different courts, the RLA argues that simply tinkering with the existing system is not good enough. It is calling on the Government to establish a single, dedicated housing court that is properly funded and properly staffed.
At present, landlords can repossess properties using two routes. One, known as Section 21, enables a landlord to regain possession at the end of a tenancy and requires two months’ notice to be given but without providing a reason. Under the other avenue, known as Section 8, landlords can repossess a property under a number of set grounds including rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
‘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,’ said David Smith, RLA policy director.
‘With landlords and tenants failing to secure justice in a timely fashion when things do go wrong, anything other than wholesale changes with proper funding to support it will lead to chaos,’ he added.