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Tenancy disputes going to court face 18-month delay warns expert

A real estate litigation partner at a leading law firm is warning that the Coronavirus crisis could lead to an 18 month delay in court cases to resolve tenancy disputes. 

Andrew Todd, a litigation partner at Eversheds, says Covid-19 will lead to what he calls “an innumerable level of disputes within the property sector” inevitably leading to a backlog tenancy disputes and other issues resolved through the court system.

Instead, he is urging all players in the tenancy and wider property sectors to engage in alternative methods of dispute resolution if they require swift action.


He says that consumers and businesses should of course be allowed to resolve disputes through the courts but in anticipation of a backlog other mechanisms should be used. 

“No judge will look favourably on counter-parties bringing claims that could have been resolved through common sense, or failing that, that could have utilised an alternative dispute resolution mechanism available” he says.

These alternatives include landlord and tenant disputes, around break clauses and restriction of performance, which could find resolutions through independent arbitration services or so-called Expert Determination - that is, the appointment of an an independent expert whose decision is binding on both parties. 


Todd also believes that with remote working and reliable digital infrastructure now the norm for many businesses, online dispute resolution is likely to be a creative option to be pursued many.        

“Short of waiting up to 18 months for a resolution, landowners, developers, tenants and investors should look to these alternative resolution methods to resolve disputes quickly, particularly if the survival of a business depends upon a quick resolution” he advises.  

  • Mark Wilson

    I suspect this will be a likely outcome, including possession orders. I can easily imagine a situation where some Landlords will be paying defaulting tenants to leave their property to secure vacant possession.


    Not often I agree with you Mark but this time I think you are completely right. Of course it isn't that unusual a situation now but it's likely to get much worse.

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    • 24 April 2020 09:44 AM

    Err! There is no possibility of mediation etc.
    The reason it will take so long to evict is because of feckless rent defaulting tenant b#####ds gaming the system.
    Most LL will have been repossessed by their lender before eviction is achieved unless the LL is able to pay the mortgage for 18 months.
    18 months is being optimistic more likely 2 1/2 years!
    Scum tenants won't need to accept bribes to vacate when they know they could live rent free for literally years!

    I suggest that long before eviction occurs the tenants will have been paid a visit and 'encouraged' to vacate that night after signing a surrender deed!

    Call them unofficial HCEO if you will!
    They certainly won't be High Court Officers but they will certainly be doing enforcement!!
    Rent defaulting tenants had better watch out!!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Problem is, and its Not just for Landlords.
    The County court system deals with family, matrimonial, child etc etc.
    Currently, its at at breaking point in terms of the time it takes to get cases heard ( as Ch Justice Warren famously said in 1958, " Justice delayed, is justice denied " ) The delay will knock-on to ALL work dealt with by the Civil courts.
    The staying of the current 20,000 cases already waiting, and the build up, let alone increase due to rent arrears - Covid-related is going to add so much pressure as to blow the system.
    The only way Govt can get All Civil justice out of this ' hole ' is to devise, and devise Quickly, an expedited Possession route ( and I'm not talking about the farce of the so-called 'Accelerated' Possession route at present.
    My estimates of the delays are around 12 - 15 months, but hell - Andrew Todd may well be right and it stretch as long as 18 months.
    This might be Good news for existing 'Rogue tenants' but Bad for the majority of Genuine tenants who are just looking to move but the Housing markets is clogged up by delayed justice.
    As usual, the majority of Good Landlords And, Good Tenants will be the ones that suffer.

    • 24 April 2020 15:36 PM

    Perhaps Shelter might like to campaign to get rid of of only rent defaulting tenants very quickly so as to ensure the LL could let to a tenant who while willing to pay rent is prevented from doing so by a completely dysfunctional eviction process.

    Of course if Shelter did support such timely removal of only defaulting tenants then that would mean most tenants who were being evicted would be able to be got rid of quickly.
    Not many tenants when faced with eviction carry on paying their rent!!

    Of course Shelter won't campaign for any such thing.

    They remain an organisation that actually causes homelessness for potentially good rent paying tenants who can't access properties where feckless rent defaulting tenants await to be evicted.

    How can it be right when it comes to rent defaulting that Govt effectively facilitates financial distress for LL!?
    We AREN'T talking about bits of shoplifting here!
    Rent defaulting is as much as robbing Sub-Post Office used to extract!!
    We have in effect legalised robbery.
    How much longer will LL be prepared to tolerate such circumstances!?
    I'm not which is why I will be leaving the PRS AST or AT sector.
    Lodgers will be my new business.
    There are very few rights that a lodger has especially a rent defaulting one!
    I feel sorry for all those aspirant good rent paying tenants.
    Unfortunately for you all the feckless ones have caused your potential LL to sell up.

    Now can I show you round my 4 bed house where I will rent a room to you for £550 pcm.
    Oh! You are a couple.
    Sorry you can occupy the property but you must pay for a room each.
    Can't breach the 4 occupier rule otherwise Mandatory HMO licensing will be required and that simply isn't viable.
    Of course while each of you will be paying for your individual lodger rooms I have no objection if you wish to spend lots of time in the other person's bedroom.
    But at no time may there be more than 4 occupiers.
    Of course an occasional guest may stay as long as I am informed.
    Lodgers the new form of tenure.
    No good for families of course but should be good news for singles.


    @ Paul Barratt
    I have ti turn off the television when thay see you next Tuesday from Shelter appears. Having a heart condition the lies he spouts just takes my blood pressure up to boiling point and beyond.

    *SHELTER HAVE NEVER SHELTERED ANYONE, EVER! Why do politicians suck up to them so much?

    *possible exception being Polly Neate who gets hundreds of thousands of pounds from the charity trough.

  • Richard Tacagni MCIEH

    A similar situation has arisen with First-tier Tribunal applications and appeals, including appeals against local authority licensing decisions and civil penalty notices. The London Tribunal office is now closed except for emergency hearings, with Directions suspended until late May. I always encourage clients to negotiate and try to settle disputes at the earliest opportunity to speed up the process and avoid mounting costs.

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    • 25 April 2020 01:21 AM

    @ lyndon baker
    Yep I think for your own wellbeing don't allow the likes of arsehole Shelter to wind you up.
    Shelter have cost good LL billions of pounds in losses.
    They will carry on causing such losses to LL.

    I'm afraid we LL need to accept that we will be losers.
    There really ISN'T any chance that we LL will beat the system.
    The system is destined to become even worse for LL.

    Unencumbered LL have a better chance of survival.
    But those leveraged LL have been shown by this CV19 crisis how risky their standard BTL business model is.

    Leveraged LL need to wakeup and realise the parlous position they are in.
    This CV19 has exposed how vulnerable mortgaged LL are.

    It surely can't be viable for leveraged LL to continue as before.
    It is highly UNLIKELY that society will stop attacking LL.
    As such we have to determine what level of risk we wish to run.
    BTL has finally and at last been exposed as a very risky business.
    It would be far preferable for all LL to pay off their BTL mortgages leaving all unencumbered rental properties.
    This would ensure that LL were forever financially resilient

    Yes it would mean mass tenant homelessness but that wouldn't be the fault of LL.

    LL being unencumbered would massively reduce the stress that being a BTL is.

    Of course it would massively reduce LA income.
    That would just be tough.
    LL need to consider their own position and sod everyone else.
    I believe it makes eminent financial sense for BTL LL to deleverage their properties by whatever means.

    There will be another pandemic.
    LL need to adopt the Boy Scout motto

    Be Prepared


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