Evictions expert Paul Shamplina says UK court delays for landlords are the worst ever he’s seen during his career within the private rented sector.
Shamplina, who is Chief Commercial Officer at Hamilton Fraser and founder of Landlord Action says the extraordinary delays, which in one recent case saw a landlord seeking eviction having to wait five-and-a-half months for a hearing at Romford Magistrates’ Court, says unless this is fixed the government’s plans to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions will cause even more chaos.
As trade association Propertymark has outlined this week, a third of all possession cases are currently Section 21 notices which are ‘accelerated’ claims that bypass the court system.
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill plans to remove Section 21 and extend the grounds for possession under Section 8 instead – which will mean many more cases have to go through the courts.
Propertymark is urging its 21,000 members to write to Justice secretary Alex Chalk, asking him to urgently review capacity within the courts before abolishing no-fault evictions.
“It’s good that Propertymark members are being asked to put pressure on the Ministry of Justice,” says Shamplina.
“I totally agree with Propertymark that you can’t think about banning Section 21 until landlords have confidence in the courts, which are in the worse shape in my 33 years spent working in the legal sector.
“It’s clear that we need more judges and more bailiffs when all the previous ‘no fault’ cases end up in court – my staff at Landlord Action have endless conversations with distraught landlords about court delays as it is – and when the ban is announced, there will be landlord panic.
"It's time to bring the Housing Court conversations back as a priority; I attended a Housing Court Working Group in October 2019, then Covid happened and then it fell off the radar.
"It all links into court reform and the abolishment of Section 21 and updated grounds for possession. Landlords and agents need confidence, which now is at a real low.
“For example, one court in central London is currently taking 40 days to correspond with us via post."
Propertymark chief Nathan Emerson (pictured) adds: “The ability of landlords to access a swift, efficient, and cost-effective justice system is a key component of a successful lettings industry.”