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Lawyer hits out at court delays and growing anti-rental sentiment

A seasoned property lawyer who has specialised in residential landlord and tenant law for 22 years says she is embarrassed at the current state of the court system.

Gina Peters, head of the landlord and tenant department at Dutton Gregory, has advised clients through the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the Housing Act 1988 and 1996, and the Deregulation Act 2015 – and now the 2023 Renters Reform Bill. 

In a critique of the Renters Reform Bill she writes: “Where is the pledged investment in our court system? The government have shied away from creating a Housing Court. 


“Never in my 27 years as a lawyer have I felt more embarrassed by the delays and unhelpful decisions produced by courts. A client who requested a warrant for possession through me back in November 2022 is still waiting for an eviction date. 

“With the latest crises in London courts, and bailiffs requiring more personal protection equipment before carrying out evictions, he will be waiting even longer. With significant rent arrears when the order was made, he is losing £1,500 per month until the tenant leaves, meanwhile his mortgage payments have risen in line with interest rate increases. Where is the justice in this?”

Peters is critical of other elements of the new Bill - and of provisions that are not included.

“Whilst there is widespread support for raising the standards of private rented properties, interestingly the Decent Home Standard is notable for its omission within the Bill. The latest tranche of regulation and rules however are a step too far for some landlords. 

“Recently, the sector has become a target for the press on the basis that a minority of landlords cause problems for tenants in the lack of care for their properties and the people they house. However, rented properties create independent living for millions – and contribute hugely to the British economy – so, we need a piece of legislation that works with landlords, rather than against them.

She continues: “With one in five households now renting, the private rented sector is an essential part of the housing market. As the government has reduced its housebuilding strategy for all local authorities from mandatory to advisory, with some councils scrapping targets all together, the housing market is shrinking in relative terms. 

“With fewer houses being built, and no Help to Buy scheme, more renters will be stuck renting for longer. Meanwhile, the Renters Reform Bill – which creates a big change to the way landlords can regain possession of their properties – is being brought in at a time when some are already looking at selling their buy to let portfolios.  

 “There is a very real danger that this Bill will be the last straw for landlords and there will be an exodus from the sector, with many more previously let properties being put up for sale. This will add to the already shrinking housing stock available to rent, and consequently with rental properties in high demand, rents could continue to surge.”

Peters says that over the years, landlords have faced increasing demand to improve their stock and make it safer for tenants. 

She believes that is a positive but as interest rates continue to rise and impact mortgage repayments, the investment within the rented sector and the yield available – following the required improvements – is shrinking. 

“Further effective lobbying is clearly needed on the details and implications of this Bill if it is to benefit all parties, otherwise securing a rented property is going to become much harder” she insists.

“Even once the changes to the reforms are finalised and in place, what the Bill really needs to address is the infrastructure for landlords seeking possession of their properties for genuine reasons. Default in rental payments as debt rises, rising antisocial behaviour and a need to sell the property to realise the capital, are some of those reasons. All the rules can be in place, and are currently, but without a court system that works to support such situations, landlords will continue to feel persecuted by a broken system and this will not improve the current housing crisis.”

  • Roger  Mellie

    The courts are a joke, there needs to be a better way of tackling bad tenants in a way similar to a credit score. This I'm sure would fix the problem right quick and free up the courts to deal with the real sewer rats.

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    I am so pleased that this has been expressed by a legal professional. I have good past experience of Gina, Robert Bolwell and the D-G team.
    When meeting John Glenn a few weeks ago, the assembled delegation of Salisbury Letting Agents made it abundantly clear that, despite ramping-up the S8 Grounds, it is as only as good as the Housing Courts can process. That is the problem and that is why landlords and Agents are anxious about the proposed Renters Reform Bill.
    Giving us the tools to do the job is one facet, giving us the legal instrument to use them wisely is a whole new problem for Government to urgently address.
    Why can't JP's and a duty solicitor hold Housing Courts as a form of surgery?


    Angus, articles like this give us even less confidence in the Gove proposals; Bailiffs halt work until PPE available on safety grounds

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    It seems to me that nobody in authority has the slightest clue the scale of the impending disaster that is growing exponentially. I've had my own inventory business for nearly 25 years at least 60% of my bookings are check outs but with no check in to follow, I am told the properties are all up for sale or being left empty for fear of rogue tenants, many of these are experienced landlords who I have known for over 20 years.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Nice to see a legal expert wade in on these matters in a more public forum.

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    I believe the government knows exactly what it's doing.

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    According to the Mail on Sunday "a mountain of thousands of unused PPE kits have been dumped near a nature reserve - with councillors baffled how they were fly-tipped without anyone noticing". Anyone told the bailiffs?


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