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Repossession court delays - lettings industry worries grow

London courts are failing to cope with the volume of landlord repossession cases according to a trade body.

New figures show the average length of time from a claim from a landlord in London to a court issuing an order for a property to be repossessed for legitimate reasons is 30 weeks.

This is up from 23 weeks just a year earlier.


Landlords in London have the longest wait in the country followed in second place by those in the North East who have to wait an average of 23.5 weeks.  

The Residential Landlords Association is warning that without substantial reform and greater funding for the courts the time taken to process cases will only get worse as ministers prepare to end Section 21, ‘no explanation’ repossessions. 

The RLA insists this will lead to much greater pressure on the courts to decide upon legitimate repossession cases such as in instances of tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.

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. 

RLA policy manager John Stewart says: “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.”

  • Barry X

    Among other factors behind this, including the alleged under funding and resources (a euphemism for lack of staff) - probably made vastly worst by their recruitment priorities of "diversity" and "equal opportunities" always being so much more important than simply finding motivated people both able and actually willing to do a proper job (the quality of most we've had to deal with has dramatically plummeted in recent years).... are;

    (1) councils insisting on tenants ignoring perfectly valid s.21 notices (wile we're even allowed to still serve the now heavily undermined shadows of what they once were) FORCING us to apply otherwise unnecessarily to the courts for possession orders.

    I wrote an article about this for the NLA quite a few years ago for their "Landlord"magazine, but apart from a lot of NLA members completely agreeing what an outrage it is for councils to in effect encourage people to break the law and need to be forced out by courts absolutely nothing has been done about it - not even campaigning or canvasing by the NLA despite their duty to - as I see it.

    Anyhow, after having been a member of the NLA for over ten years up till then I later got fed up with them and let my membership lapse. In my view they were originally excellent, and worth joining, but over the years have becoming a fatter more lazy organisation concentrating mainly on generating fees and selling NLA merchandise and courses instead of making a REAL nuisance of themselves, noisily and boldly on our behalf lobbying and campaigning and spending MONEY on national advertising to raise public awareness of the lies and duplicity of people like Shelter HARMING the private rental sector and in reality working against tenants' interests and rights and indirectly costing tenants more (as well as making it harder and harder to find anyone now daring to even accept them as a result - and not helping them helping them at all (but helping Shelter to grow and raise more funds to pay their executives even more).

    Shelter's policies, and Generation Rents and all similar "pro-tenant, anti-landlord" organisations wrongly gain far more publicity and government attention than ours as professional landlords, and indirectly lead to more evictions taking more court time, as well as fewer properties even being available in the first place and higher rents when they are.

    going back to the s.21 notices and councils forcing landlords to go to court, otherwise unnecessarily as most people would be prepared to accept the original notice and simply go if they hadn't been told "officially" not to, some councils, again for their own convenience, even tell tenants to ignore the possession orders and wait another month or two for the bailiffs before they can be "validly rehoused" normally to larger properties which is why all this - at our expense - is worth the council's time.

    (2) court time is hugely wasted by a lot things thgat shouldn't even be necessary, such as vast numbers of TV Licence Evasion cases. I know the BBC (the anti-British Broadcasting Company as I call it) managed to criminalise this so the CPR, not themselves, has had to bear the brunt and pay for it all. However its all part of the court's system and does massively impact County Court finding and "resourcing" so is certainly not helping any of us, only the BBC who can't lose because it either costs them nothing or they win (at our expense).

    (3) and so on....

    Its all a mess, the whole legal system is in crises so my best advice is

    (A) avoid anyone on any form of housing benefits so they are unconnected with the council so you can avoid all that nonsense (its a shame because we used to be perfectly willing to accept good people, like recently divorced mothers or respectable people who just happen to be invalided out of work or whatever) but for years no wouldn't consider it simply because of a number of absurd anti-landlord policies including (but by no means only) the one I've just explained about s.21 notices.

    (B) be VERY careful; who you accept as tenants.... much better to have an empty property in good condition available for a good tenant (single, couple, family, whatever) than COSTING you money with a tenant not paying and not going and causing damage and deterioration...

    Good luck - we're going to need more and more of it the way things are going!!!

  • icon

    1. The Government will take a very long time to reform court procedures for repossession as it is too wrapped up in Brexit and all the other promises. Court procedure reform is a very low priority.
    2. Section 21 reform will go ahead fairly soon and make matters much worse for landlords to then regain legitimate possession putting even further pressure on the courts; landlords too will then have to use Section 8 Grounds or some S.21 replacement legislation but this will be much more expensive for landlords and court costs will inevitably continue to rise.
    3. The amount of PRS accommodation available will reduce even further as landlords decide to call it quits as the reform of income tax levels especially for higher-rate taxpayers, and Stamp Duty surcharges, unless reformed in the March Budget, will make more landlords leave the market sooner rather than later.
    4. Landlords have hefty hidden costs which the Government fails to recognise, and rents are not guaranteed to keep going up. A shortage of accommodation will keep rents high but there is an upper limit to tenants ability or willingness to pay, so homelessness will unfortunately increase as will B & B demand for displaced families.
    5. The Governments reforms will cost it much more in the long term but doesn't manage to see it that way.
    6. The stress and strain of the repossession procedure not to mention the huge loss of irrecoverable income in most cases, can easily put off landlords for ever.
    7. Landlords are having to comply with ever increasing unnecessary legislation.
    8. Governments tend to take much more notice of tenants problems, rather than those of landlords who are the ones providing the service after all and are thought mainly to be money grabbing pariahs.
    9. Matters won't improve during or after 2020 they will only get worse.
    10. I predict that nowhere near the number of "affordable" (ha! ha!) houses will be built to ease the problem, and Boris for all his good intentions is not conversant with the nitty-gritty, and will just hope the Housing Ministers who regularly come and go can get things moving (fat chance).

    Well that's just 10 points of view; I'm sure you could add another 100.

    • 20 January 2020 20:51 PM

    Yep all your reasons plus others is why I am getting out of the AST lettings game.
    Just far too risky.


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