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Agents demand radical legal reform and a new Housing Court

Propertymark has listed a string of legal reforms it wants as part of the government’s modernisation of the court process - and the demands include one for a specialist Housing Court.

The demands come in the trade body’s response to the House of Commons Justice Committee’s launch of an inquiry to explore the work of County Courts amid long-term worries over their capacity and resources. 

According to data from HM Courts and Tribunal Service there were 7,301 possession claims made by private landlords in England and Wales in the second quarter of 2023. This represents a 16 per cent rise from the same quarter of 2019 - which was pre-pandemic. 


Propertymark has long held the view that a dedicated housing court would remove the pressure of private rented sector disputes off the County Courts and speed up the possession process.

Under the current system, Propertymark thinks that technology can be used to improve the service and should include the following developments:

- The fees schedule needs to be digitalised to ensure shift action for justice and that paperwork does not hold up the process;

- The Ministry of Justice needs to explore how it can prioritise the most contentious possession cases including those involving anti-social  behaviour especially in cases where the perpetrator is still living in the property; and

- Ensuring future online systems are user-designed and introduce a minimum service level standard.

The professional body for agents also highlighted several concerns with the poor condition of the court estate, unreliable wi-fi, a lack of information on how to use systems and procedures and limited reasonable adjustments made to allow people with a disability to get access to justice and attend court.

Furthermore, there have been significant delays in bailiff enforcement on health and safety grounds particularly in London and larger cities. This is chiefly down to shortages in Personal Protective Equipment to ensure that all evictions can go ahead safely and securely. 

Propertymark says one way to get around this problem is to provide landlords and agents with an automatic right to a High Court Enforcement Officer. This would prevent landlords from needing to apply for a writ of possession through the County Court first, making the process much quicker.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, says: “With changes introduced through the Renting Homes (Wales) Act and planned changes contained in the Renters (Reform) Bill for England, the Justice Committee’s Inquiry is timely, and should help to support the UK Government’s reforms for possession and the court system. 

“There are many areas that need developing if the County Courts are to be improved and we hope that through the work of the Committee, the need for a dedicated housing court can form part of UK Government thinking going forward and be the desired outcome for long term reform and overall benefit to the sector.”

  • icon

    Meanwhile from NRLA . . . 💤


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