Government unveils proposals for new Housing Court

The Government is seeking views on the creation of a specialist Housing Court to provide a single path to raise issues and settle disputes for agents, landlords and tenants.

It would replace the current system that leaves agents, tenants and landlords to pursue claims against one another over housing disputes through a range of routes such as the county court, First-tier Tribunal, magistrates court or high court.

The Ministry of Housing has launched a Call for Evidence that argues the current process can be time consuming for landlords when trying to repossess a property, while tenants can find the process confusing when making or defending a claim against their landlord.

The document seeks views on bringing all housing issues into a Housing Court or whether there should be a clearer delineation of what a county court and the property tribunals cover.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home, and this Government is bringing about real change in making renting more secure.

“This is particularly important for families and vulnerable tenants who live with the fear of suddenly being forced to move, or fear eviction if they complain about problems with their home. It is also important for landlords who, in a minority of cases, struggle to get their property back when they have reason to do so.

“The proposals announced will help ensure both tenants and landlords can access justice when they need it – creating a fair housing market that works for everyone.”

The move was backed by ARLA Propertymark.

David Cox, chief executive of the trade body, said: “We have long urged Government to take an holistic approach to the laws governing the private rented sector, and are optimistic that the announcement is an acknowledgement of the necessity for this approach.

“For example, in order to address the issue of long-term tenancies, we need a properly functioning court system.

“The creation of a Housing Court would be a huge leap forward for landlords, tenants and agents alike, and have a wholly positive impact on the sector.”

Landlords were equally welcoming.

David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, said: “Improving and speeding up access to justice in this way would be good news for landlords and tenants.

“It will help root out criminal landlords more quickly, give tenants better ability to enforce rights granted by new legislation on property fitness, and give greater confidence to landlords to offer longer tenancies.”

However, the National Landlords Association suggested the Government also needs to review the section 8 possession process, which it said can be too easily challenged by tenants, letting them remain in the property even if they are in rental arrears.

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA, said: “As it stands, the system is failing and needs urgent reform. Landlords are forced to rely on section 21 ‘no fault’ notices, even when there is a breach in tenancy. This is essentially a sticking plaster covering the fundamental issue – that the section 8 process is no longer fit for purpose.

“While the majority of tenancies are ended by the tenant, landlords need to be confident they can regain possession of their properties efficiently in the event of a breach of tenancy to effectively manage their business risk.”

The Call for Evidence closes on January 22 and can be completed online.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H52PC8P

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/755326/Considering_the_case_for_a_housing_court.pdf

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5 Comments

  1. DarrelKwong43

    Can we get the judges to draft the legislation as well, so we dont have to spend years trying to work out what the Government have *intended*?

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    1. The_Maluka

      What! and take all the fun out of court appearances.

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  2. CountryLass

    Oh my god, could this actually be a helpful change for the housing market from the government?? Jeepers, you could have warned me to sit down first!

     

    I think a separate housing court is a great idea, it’s one of the things I raised with my MP back in June. It can take 9 months to get through the court process to get a landlord possession of their own property back. That is completely ridiculous and unfair when half the time it is because of rent arrears, so the Landlord can have potentially a year of no rent and possibly not even get the money at the end. Do you think their mortgage lender would be happy to defer getting their money til the Tenant pays? I don’t think so!

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  3. Will

    “Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home”     They must a have pill they are forced to take when they join Government or Local Government along with “We are very clear on this”!   But then you should not forget they are all politicians and never use straight talking and many  tell lies profusely.  Of course, in theory, a specialist court is a good idea but just because they set up a new system doesn’t mean it will be properly funded or quick and easy for landlords and tenants to use, nor does it mean it will be affordable.  I will not be celebrating until I know it works – not a thing that can be guaranteed nowadays with the current rushed through knee jerk legislation – remember a couple of months ago they could not even get revisions to the How to Rent document and had to replace it within weeks!.

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  4. singlelayer

    Nice idea. In practice it will be a disaster.

     

    A bit like contract law…works well, but when it comes to tenancies (contracts in themselves), we have a whole set of ‘special’ rules.

     

    They will do this with a ‘Housing Court’ too. It’ll be run by Court ‘Officers’ overseen by a Judge. Will include mandatory arbitration and because it’s new and will hit the ground running, will be backlogged for weeks or months within a matter of days.

     

    The truth is, the Government (both local and national) don’t want a whole bunch of non-paying, troublesome tenants kicked out swiftly because they’d become the local authorities headache…even if they found another unsuspecting LL, it’d be a short amount of time before they were kicked out a second time and a headache for the local authority.

     

    It will inevitably continue until LLs have enough and leave the sector entirely. This won’t change a thing on the ground, except remove everyone’s favourite whipping boy and I can’t wait until they’re lost for who to blame.

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