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‘Court system will fall apart if repossession reform is introduced as proposed’

Landlords warn new Justice Secretary that current plans to scrap Section 21 eviction notice process will lead to disaster.

Nigel Lewis

repossessions

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has warned the new Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP that if the government introduces its repossession reforms as they stand, the courts will go into meltdown.

In a letter to Buckland (pictured, above), the RLA has warned against scrapping Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions, highlighting how it already takes five months on average from a landlord applying to court for a property to be returned to them. The warning comes despite government promises to soften the blow by modifying the Section 8 notice process.

The letter also includes details of the latest RLA landlord survey while reveals that 79 per cent of private landlords who have used the courts to repossess properties are dissatisfied with the way they work, and that 91% of support the establishment of a dedicated housing court.

Scots problems

In Scotland, when similar reforms were completed, the Government was forced to invest extra cash 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 per cent 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, while 45 per cent 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.

Two routes

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.

Link to Lettings newsDavid Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “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.

“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.”

August 1, 2019

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