The RLA call for the introduction of a specialist new housing court

The Residential Landlords’ Association are calling on the new government to improve the “slow, complex, and underfunded” court process, which typically takes landlords 43 weeks to recover possession of their properties if a tenant fails to pay rent.

An improved court system, is one of the key demands the RLA have put to the political parties ahead of the next General Election on 8th June.

Landlords are not the only people who find the process unacceptable.  Tenants living in properties where landlords are not maintaining or fulfilling their repairing obligations, also find the system slow and difficult to navigate.

Tenants find it hard to establish their rights, obtain expert advice on what evidence is required to prove the disrepair, and to actually recoup the money they are owed or get confirmation that the landlord will carry out the necessary repairs.

Tenants therefore turn to their local authorities, who the RLA claim, only respond to approximately half of the complaints made about property standards.

The RLA are now calling for a new, funded, housing specialist court, similar to the existing Residential Property Tribunal, which would have its own inhouse experts, removing the need to outsource external consultants.

The new court would visit properties itself to assess the complaint, reducing the need for witness statements and arguments concerning the condition of the property.  It would also, where appropriate, deal with cases on paper and direct parties to mediation to try and resolve disputes as quickly as possible.  With its expert knowledge of property and law, the court could decide on matters without the need to hire expensive lawyers, therefore reducing the cost to landlords and tenants.

The association made a statement on their website saying: “we all know this model works.  Scotland has been using a similar specialist tribunal successfully for some time for housing despair matters and has now expanded it to cover possession matters as well.  Ireland also has a successful specialist housing disrepair tribunal.

“We have invested a great deal into the existing Residential Property Tribunal structure but continually limit its operations to matters involving HMO licensing.  The RLA are calling for that tribunal to be able to do much more and to use its substantial expertise to benefit the PRS across a wider range of issues”.

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