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Reform possession process as part of Housing Court idea - call

A call has been made for the government to review the section 8 possession process as part of its call for evidence and consultation on the creation of a Housing Court.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government yesterday gave details of its call for evidence on the court which, if it goes ahead, would be a “single path of redress for both landlords and tenants.”

The government says it wants views and opinions from the judiciary, landlords and tenants “to better understand and improve the experience of people using courts and tribunal services in property cases, including considering the case for a specialist Housing Court.”

Now the National Landlords Association says the consultation should particularly look at the section 8 possession process which requires landlords to seek a court order to gain possession of their property where the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. 

Currently tenants can challenge the possession claim and remain in the property and the NLA says that for successful possession claims, there is an average period of 18 weeks between claims and repossessions. 

This can cost up to £355 per claim in court fees alone says the NLA. It says that in addition the landlord also has to cover legal costs and may face losses when tenants are in arrears and stop paying rent. 

A recent survey by the association shows that it can take an average of 145 days to regain possession of a property at a cost of £5,730.

The NLA says the obvious alternative to section 8 is section 21, where no reason is needed and gives tenants two months’ notice. However, this can only be used after a fixed-term tenancy ends or during a periodic tenancy. 

“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” explains Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA.

“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.”

You can see more details of the Housing Court call for evidence here.

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