Plans for new Housing Court for England revealed

Landlords and tenants in England are set to get faster and more effective justice in the event of property disputes under new proposals unveiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The proposals will result in a specialist Housing Court being created to provide a single path of redress for both landlords and tenants meaning both have the security of knowing they have somewhere to go to seek justice, with the power to resolve the dispute.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that while the vast majority of landlords are responsible owners, a number of tenants continue to live with the fear of being evicted at short notice or remain stuck in poor accommodation.

He believes that with housing disputes held in a number of different legal settings, the process can be confusing and act as a deterrent to some of the most vulnerable seeking justice.

‘Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home, and this Government is bringing about real change in making renting more secure,’ Brokenshire said.

‘This is particularly important for families and vulnerable tenants who live with the fear of suddenly being forced to move, or fear eviction if they complain about problems with their home. It is also important for landlords who, in a minority of cases, struggle to get their property back when they have reason to do so,’ he pointed out.

Other proposals include reducing the need for multiple hearings in different courts, transferring certain types of housing cases between the courts and tribunal or vice-versa to ensure cases are resolved quickly and issuing new guidance to help tenants and landlords navigate their way through the legal system.

Changes to further streamline court processes could also provide confidence for landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies, by making it easier for responsible landlords who provide a high quality service to regain possession of their tenancy should they need to do so.

This is part of the £1 billion reform programme to build a justice system that is fair, straightforward and accessible to all. It also builds upon comprehensive government action to rebalance the relationship between tenant and landlord.

Other measures being taken include requiring all landlords, like agents, to join a redress scheme; ensuring all letting agents are members of a client money protection scheme to protect landlord and tenants’ hard-earned cash and banning letting fees and capping tenancy deposits so that tenants have more money in their pockets.

The proposals currently only relate to England only and the impact on Wales of any changes to the current functions of the county court will be addressed separately in collaboration with the Welsh government.

A formal call for evidence on the proposals has been opened and respondents will be able to respond by online survey, email or written response. The department will provide a response to the call for evidence following its conclusion.