Landlord Action’s new head of legal Paul Sowerbutts fears the protracted delays around the eviction process are going to get worse before they get better.
The eviction service took 707 calls from landlords looking for advice in June, up from 439 calls in April, and Paul Sowerbutts predicts that once the furlough scheme ends in October there will be more job losses, leading to even more landlords needing to evict tenants who’ve built up large rent arrears.
Review hearings have created an extra hurdle that leads to delays too, which Landlord Action is petitioning to remove.
He tells LandlordZONE: “There’s a lot of frustration directed at local authorities who landlords feel aren’t supporting them because they want tenants to stay in properties for as long as possible.”
Loopholes can sometimes be found to expedite the process, says Sowerbutts, who cites the six-month notice period facing landlords in Wales.
Issuing a notice on the grounds of anti-social behaviour along with rent arrears means the courts should prioritise a case, he advises.
In England, relying on a county court bailiff is taking at least three or four months. Consequently, Landlord Action had been advising clients to apply directly to the high court to get a high court enforcement officer to carry out a much speedier eviction in a couple of weeks. However, this is proving less effective as an application now takes several months.
An experienced solicitor with many years working in local government, as well as with tenants using legal aid and social landlords, he believes the market will evolve once Section 21 is abolished, leading to fewer landlords in the PRS but with larger portfolios, where his expertise in housing management – maintaining relationships with tenants – will be useful.
Paul’s rounded knowledge of all aspects of housing law and the strategies needed to bring successful evictions will also be key. “I’m getting my sleeves rolled up and using my understanding of all sides in the process,” he adds.