A leading property sector trade body has called for a dedicated housing court in England and Wales to help overcome a ‘fundamental lack of faith’ in the present court system among landlords and agents.
Propertymark, which represents estate agents in the UK, has made the call within its response to the Law Commission’s latest consultation on which laws need reforming.
The current court system even without Covid restrictions is unwieldy and, Propertymark points out, the time taken from claim to repossession is increasing with the median time standing at 21.1 weeks by March 2020.
Recent Ministry of Justice figures revealed this had risen to 60 weeks during the pandemic.
Also, landlords are five times more likely to use a Section 21 notice than a Section 8 to evict a tenant, even in the presence of rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, as they believe it to be the faster route to possession, which is crucial in minimising overall costs.
In the context of the possible abolition of Section 21, Propertymark points out the increased pressure on the court system would be ‘catastrophic’.
“The current backlog of cases shows we desperately need to see a change in the way PRS issues are handled,” says Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager (pictured).
“Our members are seeing a lack of private rented supply and failure to reform the court system is likely to result in a lack of confidence for private landlords, ultimately leading to a further loss of investment in an already highly penalised section of the housing system.
“A dedicated housing court would provide faster, less costly resolutions for tenants and landlords.”
The Law Commission is due to publish its programme of successful projects in the first half of 2022.