Housing courts: time for a rethink?
When the government announced in November last year that it wanted feedback on the idea of setting up a specialist housing court, the Civil Justice Council gave it the thumbs down. Now however, the suggestion could be given a boost ? because the idea of offering renters indefinite tenancies is gaining traction.
With the end in sight for Section 21 ?no-fault? evictions, it?s becoming clear that if landlords aren?t to be seriously let down by the government there has to be a fast, effective route to settle disputes with tenants ? and a housing court could be just the solution that?s needed.
Yesterday, housing charity Shelter released a report calling for England to follow Scotland?s lead and provide private tenants with indefinite security of tenure. In other words ?no-fault" evictions will no longer be possible.
The private residential tenancy rules introduced north of the border in December 2017 brought an end to fixed-term rentals, meaning leases will effectively be open-ended.
In Scotland the new laws have led to unprecedented security of tenure to private renters, but what about the rights of landlords? This week the Residential Landlords Association told Landlord Today, ?the only reason the Scottish model has worked is because a properly funded and staffed housing court was established to cope with the dramatic increase in repossession cases needing to be heard.? So could it work in England too?
The RLA certainly thinks so. It believes that new housing courts would speed up the whole system, making it fairer and more transparent. And ultimately it would benefit tenants too because landlords are more likely to rent property ? even on open-ended terms ? if they know they can regain possession if something goes wrong. As the law now stands in England and Wales it often takes more than five months for landlords to repossess properties through the courts. That?s just not good enough. It must be time for a re-think.
Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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