Law News

Housing Court Could be Essential to Property Redress System

Rose Jinks - January 22, 2019

A housing court could be essential to the property redress system, believes Neil Cobbold, the COO of PayProp UK.

As the Government prepares to end its call for evidence on the need for a dedicated housing court today (22nd January 2019), a range of industry experts have had their say on the proposal.

The call for evidence was launched in November last year, and has been seeking views on whether a specialist housing court would benefit landlords, tenants and the industry as a whole.

The proposed court would deal with property-related disputes, including those regarding property repossessions and substandard rental housing.

It would replace the current system, which requires consumers to pursue their cases through the county courts, magistrates’ courts, High Court or First-tier Tribunal.

Property possession for landlords

One of the key criticisms of the existing system is that it can be difficult for landlords to regain possession of their properties if tenants are failing to pay the rent.

Landlord trade bodies have suggested that this is a barrier to landlords offering long-term tenancies – something that the Government is keen to introduce as a three-year minimum industry standard.

Official figures estimate that the average time taken between a private landlord’s county court claim to possession by a bailiff is over 16 weeks.

“A dedicated housing court could make it easier and quicker for landlords to regain possession of a property via the legal system,” says Cobbold. “What’s more, a simplified system could also make the process easier for landlords to navigate without costly professional legal support.”

Challenging rogue landlords

Another aim of the call for evidence is to determine whether a housing court would make it easier for tenants to seek justice against landlords providing substandard accommodation.

Cobbold explains: “Many renters may not be fully aware of the current course of action they need to take to pursue a dispute with their landlord through the courts.

“A housing court could be more accessible and provide people with a single route for redress. The Government has previously pledged to ensure all landlords are part of an approved redress scheme.”

He adds: “While this legislation is yet to be introduced, a housing court could provide tenants with greater protection and opportunity to challenge potentially criminal landlords.”

Effective redress

A dedicated housing court could provide a range of benefits for letting agents, if disputes between landlords and tenants are resolved quicker.

It could also tie in effectively with the Government’s ongoing plans to introduce a single housing ombudsman for the sector.

Cobbold concludes: “A less complicated redress system, which is solely designed to deal with housing disputes, is in the interests of everyone in the industry.

“We now await the results of the call for evidence, and the subsequent Government suggestions and analysis.”