Landlord organisation calls for new court in UK for private rental sector

An organisation representing residential landlords in the UK is calling on the next Government to set up a new housing court to speed up justice for landlords and tenants.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) believes that such a court would enable landlords and tenants in the private rented sector to access justice more quickly to uphold their contractual rights in respect of property possession and for action against landlords breaching the law.

The call for a new court is one of six key asks outlined in the RLA’s policy document it has issued ahead of the general election on 08 June.

It is also calling for more positive tax policies to promote growth in the sector which has slowed due to an extra 3% stamp duty for additional homes introduced last year and a phased in reduction of tax relief on buy to let mortgages.

The RLA is suggesting that there should be a fairer approach to welfare reform for landlords and tenants, giving tenants claiming Universal Credit the choice of having rent paid direct to their landlord, and speeding up the claim process.

It believes that more effective enforcement against criminal landlords through guaranteed long term funding for local authorities, backed by a system of co-regulation for the majority of law abiding landlords would also boost the sector.

And it is asking for support for landlords to improve energy efficiency in private rental homes for the benefit of tenants and the environment as well as a new deposit trust for tenants enabling them to transfer deposits seamlessly between tenancies.

Statistics show that that it currently takes an average of 43 weeks for a landlord to regain possession of a property through the courts during which time they may not receive any rent.
Freedom of Information data obtained by the RLA last year found that among the 255 councils which responded, just 827 prosecutions had been taken out against landlords over the preceding five years following notices to improve a property being issued.

‘The current court system is not fit for purpose. It takes too long and is too costly for landlords to repossess a property where tenants are not paying their rent, as well as for tenants to uphold their rights when faced with a landlord providing sub-standard housing,’ said RLA chairman Alan Ward.

‘New housing courts would greatly improve the situation enabling justice for good landlords and tenants to be provided more swiftly. Landlords are more likely to rent property out to tenants for longer periods if they can more easily regain possession of a home where tenants are not paying their rent or committing anti-social behaviour,’ he added.