Fair access to justice for both landlords and tenants is an essential part of a well-functioning housing market. Landlords must have the confidence that they can regain possession of their property quickly in legitimate circumstances, such as rent arrears, anti-social or criminal behaviour and should they need to sell. Likewise, tenants whose landlords are renting substandard or dangerous properties should be able to enforce their rights without waiting on overstretched or inefficient local authorities to take action.
Landlords do not have to go to court often. Generally, most tenants pay their rent and do not breach their contract. However, when they are forced to go to court by poor tenant behaviour it is clear that the justice system is failing them. The process is expensive, beset by delays with judges often unaware of the nuances of landlord and tenant law. Landlords and tenants are confused and frustrated by the system. 79% of landlords who used the courts say they were dissatisfied in our research. Citizen's Advice has also found that tenants are put off seeking redress by the complexity and delays. The courts are overstretched and underfunded. Worse the bailiff service is so slow that in some areas of the country it can take over a year for one enforce a possession order.
Justice is not devolved to Wales, so much of the NRLA's work on this is England & Wales-wide. However, NRLA Wales ensures the arguments are heard by Welsh politicians who can represent the views of landlords to colleagues in the UK Government and Westminster Parliament. Read about our campaign for a Welsh Housing Court here.
We are calling on the Government to:
- establish a properly funded, specialist housing court with new online systems to help landlords and tenants
- reduce bailiff wait times so that landlords do not have to wait months to regain possession of their properties
- improve grounds based possession and retaining section 21 until grounds based possession is fit for purpose. See our Possession Reform pages.