County courts are taking over half a year on average to process legitimate evictions by landlords and agents, it has been revealed.
Latest data from the Ministry of Justice lays bare the parlous state of the courts which are in such a state of torpor that the Government recently agreed to delay abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions within its looming Renters (Reform) Bill.
Revealing that repossessions by landlords are taking on average 29 weeks, the Ministry of Justice has also noted that such long lead times are ‘higher than the legal guidelines’.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) says 29 weeks is far too long particularly given many committing anti-social behaviour or deliberately getting into arrears are aware it will take months to evict them.
The delays break down into several different streams – the MoJ figures it is taking 11 weeks on average to secure a court hearing where a possession claim can be approved, and an order issued.
As Landlord Action highlighted recently, subsequently finding a court-appointed bailiff to undertake the eviction has also proved extremely difficult in recent months after strikes at dozens of courts over personal safety equipment availability.
With the end of section 21 repossessions likely to further exacerbate pressures on the courts, the NRLA is calling for urgent action to ensure legitimate possession cases are processed far more swiftly.
Ministers need to boost staff numbers in the courts and outline clearly what their proposed digitised system for handling cases would look like, it says.
“Responsible landlords and tenants need to be confident that the courts will handle possession cases swiftly and fairly when section 21 goes. At present that is not happening,” says Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association.