Court wait times must be reduced urgently to avoid further disruption in the post-Covid PRS, says the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
Its research shows an 80% drop in possession claims between April 2020 and March 2021 – down to 22,700 – compared with 2019. Landlords made fewer total claims across those 12 months than they did in any three-month period prior to April 2020.
The Wait of Justice 2021: how Covid legislation affected possession report is drawn from Ministry of Justice responses to Freedom of Information requests, and shows that in Q1 2019 the mean average wait time for a landlord’s possession order to be issued was about seven to 10 weeks. In contrast, by Q1 2021, the average wait time had risen to between 15-18 weeks.
The NRLA believes the problem can best be solved by either adapting or ending administrative reforms introduced during the pandemic so that typical waiting times for a substantive hearing are reduced.
But it says the research also illustrates the need for a comprehensive package of financial measures to help tenants pay off rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.
While these findings show how landlords and tenants have responded with admirable resolve in the face of unprecedented challenges across the sector, they also reveal the dysfunction which continues to lie at the heart of the court system across England and Wales, says chief executive Ben Beadle (pictured).
“The majority of landlords have complied with the government’s requests to show understanding during a time of national crisis,” says Beadle.
“Now is the time to respond to landlords’ concerns about the future of the PRS by introducing a package of financial assistance that will provide greater security to many landlords and tenants over the long term.”