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Speed up court wait times, landlord group urges

The National Residential Landlords Association has called on The Ministry of Justice speed up the time it takes for courts to process possession cases

In an open letter, the association said delays of six months or more need to be made a thing of the past, especially when Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’ are set to be abolished.

The letter cites a recent report by the Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (LUHC) Select Committee which warns: “It is not clear whether the government fully appreciates the extent to which an unreformed courts system could undermine its tenancy reforms.”

Measures taken that could reduce court wait times include the digitalisation of the court process and increasing the number of court staff dealing with possession cases.

Ben Beadle, chief executive at the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The court service is failing its users and has done for some time. Court wait times are a major issue for landlords – particularly those who need to repossess property from anti-social tenants or those individuals who are in extreme rent arrears.

“Before the second reading of the Renters (Reform) Bill, the Government must set out clearly what court reform means and bring confidence to the sector.

“Section 21 was introduced to give property owners the confidence to bring their property to the market in the knowledge that they could deal swiftly with problem tenants. With its abolition planned, landlords must have the same confidence that having given their tenant a legitimate reason, their repossession claim will be processed without delay.

“The Levelling Up Secretary is absolutely right to insist that that Section 21 will only be abolished when the courts are ready to receive such cases, but now is the time for the detail. This must comprise investment, detail of digitalisation and punchy processing targets to give confidence that reforms will work for responsible landlords.

“Failing to do so will only jeopardise the implementation of the reforms and will likely exacerbate an already serious crisis of supply of rented housing.”