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Minister reveals latest on courts overhaul and ending Section 21

baroness Swinburne

The government has provided more detail on how it plans to overhaul the courts, along with the timeline for abolishing Section 21.

Speaking during the Renters Reform Bill debate in the House of Lords, Housing Minister Baroness Swinburne (main image) said the analogue system was now being worked on to help process new Section 8 possessions on new contracts as soon as possible.

“The digitisation of the processes will follow as soon as possible for the existing contracts, provided that the Lord Chancellor’s court assessment suggests that the system can cope,” she explained.

“I will attempt to supply a visual chart for setting out indicative timelines for the Section 21 phases and the total abolition as we discuss this over the coming weeks.”

Baroness Swinburne added that the new system would have “great new training for the analogue system to do the immediate new contracts, followed by digitisation”. She told peers: “I am a lot more optimistic that new, large digitisation projects can now be delivered on time, and I am confident that we will be able to scope and deliver this as quickly as needed.”

Drop dead

Lord Carrington called for the minister to consider a “drop-dead date, for the abolition of Section 21” and asked what the parameters were for an improved court system.

He said: “Reviews, reports and surveys are all part of the reform process, but there is an absence of published information on the metrics of improvement. This all resembles the age-old question: how long is a piece of string?”

Baroness Swinburne insisted that the government’s priority was to end Section 21 as soon as reasonably possible.

“As these are the largest changes to the private rental sector in over 30 years, it is critical that we introduce them in a way that both protects tenants’ security and retains landlords’ confidence in the new system,” she added. “There is a raft of secondary legislation that will be required to achieve that; therefore, it cannot be done at Royal Assent.”

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Section 21
Courts and tribunals service