Courts ‘failing to follow rules’ in housing cases

Average time taken for a property to be repossessed from the initial claim is now over 22 weeks.

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Courts across the country are failing to follow their own rules when it comes to the speed of dealing with possession cases, the Residential Landlords Association has said.

According to the civil procedure rules which provide a code to ensure courts deal with cases justly, the courts are expected to ensure cases are “dealt with expeditiously and fairly”.

The rules show that from a landlord making a claim through the courts to a property being repossessed should be around nine weeks.

The government’s own statistics however show that it is taking over 22 weeks.

With the government consulting on ending the use of Section 21 repossessions in the private rented sector the number of repossession cases going through the courts will increase substantially.

However, although the consultation commits the government to developing “a simpler, faster process through the courts” for repossession cases, the RLA have stated that no detailed plans have been made.

The association also argue that what is needed is the development of a new, properly funded housing court to speed up and improve justice for landlords and tenants.

This needs to be matched by a “clear commitment” to ensure that landlords have to wait no more than 10 weeks between submitting a case for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening.

David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said: “Whilst the government talks the talk on court reform it is failing to walk the walk.

“Words alone will not improve the court system for tenants or for landlords.

“What is needed is a firm plan for a fully funded housing court which reverses cuts that have made access to justice more difficult and take far too long.

“Tinkering with the existing system is simply not good enough.”

He added: “Without such fundamental changes the Government’s plans to reform the way landlords can repossess properties are dead on arrival.”

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