The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning that courts across London are failing to cope with the volume of landlord repossession cases even before Section 21 notices are scrapped.
A Freedom of Information request by the membership body found that the waiting time from claim to possession – for both Section 21 and Section 8 notices – hit 30 weeks in 2019 for London.
This was up from 23 weeks a year before and provides a warning for landlords and the court system nationally, the RLA said.
Landlords in the north-east of England have the second longest wait on average at 23.5 weeks, according to the FOI.
The RLA is warning that the situation could get worse once the Government presses ahead with plans to scrap ‘no fault’ evictions, which don’t require lengthy hearings, as there will be more pressure on the courts.
The RLA is calling on the Government to establish a dedicated housing court in order to improve and speed up access to justice for landlords and tenants in the minority of cases where something goes wrong.
John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA, said: “If landlords feel that they might have to wait forever to regain possession of their property where they have good reason, such as tenants committing anti-social behaviour or failing to pay their rent, increasing numbers are going to feel it is not worth the risk of letting the property out in the first place.
“This will just add to the already growing shortage of investment in rented housing which is badly needed to meet a rising demand.
“The RLA was delighted when the Government consulted on its proposal for a housing court a year ago but nothing has happened since.
“It needs to get on and get it set up for the benefit of landlords and tenants alike.”
Evictions specialist Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action said: “These figures show how bad the court system and waiting times are getting at the moment.
“We are seeing delays at Landlord Action on a daily basis by the courts – no judges, lost papers and admin errors being the most common reason for delays.
“From being involved with the housing court working group, I worry that with no clear investment and the abolition of Section 21, hearings will double on Section 8 cases and there will not be enough judges to service the hearings.
“We have seen recently the massive waiting times for possession cases to be heard in Scotland post the banning of their equivalent Section 21, and the English private sector market is a lot bigger.
“I’ve been involved in the county court system acting for landlords for over 25 years and it’s getting worse.”