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County court delays for landlords and agents 'unacceptable'

housing court

Propertymark has pressed the Government once more to establish a dedicated housing court to take the pressure of PRS disputes from the county courts and speed up the possession process.

In its response to the House of Commons justice committee’s inquiry into the county courts’ work, it calls out unacceptable delays in access to justice and suggests that technology should be used to improve the service.

The time from claim to hearing continues to rise; the average wait time for a warrant to be issued in a PRS possession claim is about 29 weeks, although in London this can sometimes be as high as 40 weeks.

Propertymark believes the fees schedule needs to be digitalised to ensure swift action for justice and that paperwork does not hold up the process. The group says the Ministry of Justice needs to explore how it can prioritise the most contentious possession cases including those involving anti-social behaviour.

Enforcement

It suggests that landlords and agents should have the automatic right to a high court enforcement officer to prevent them from needing to apply for a writ of possession through the county court first, making the process much quicker.

It ultimately also wants the government to consider additional mandatory grounds for possession via a Section 8 notice to include: if the tenant is persistently late in paying rent, fails to provide access to the property for inspections by landlords or their agents, has acquired the property with false or incorrect information and is in breach of their tenancy agreement.

Timothy Douglas (pictured), head of policy and campaigns, says: “We hope that through the work of the committee, the need for a dedicated housing court can form part of UK government thinking going forward and be the desired outcome for long-term reform and overall benefit to the sector.”

Earlier this year the Government said it was against a dedicated housing court for evictions despite most players within the PRS calling for it.

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