New NRLA report shows continued fall in pandemic possession claims
A continued fall in landlord possession claims took place between April 2020 and March 2021, according to new research produced by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
This latest NRLA research, ‘The Wait of Justice 2021: how Covid legislation affected possession’, shows that possession claims have dropped significantly since the initial court closures.
During the ongoing pandemic landlords made fewer total claims across twelve months (April 2020-March 2021) than they made in any three-month period prior to April 2020. There were 22,700 claims made between April 2020 and March 2021 - an 80% drop from the total figure for 2019 (110,907).
These figures suggest that, throughout the pandemic, tenants and landlords have continued to adopt a collaborative approach to the challenges both groups have faced by sustaining tenancies wherever possible. Likewise, this research reveals the extent of landlords’ cooperation with government guidance issued over the course of the past year.
Additionally, the findings also emphasise how court wait times must be reduced urgently if further disruption is to be avoided in the post-Covid private rented sector. The NRLA’s research findings (drawn from MoJ responses to NRLA FOI requests) show that in Q1 2019 the mean average wait time for a landlord’s possession order to be issued was around 7-10 weeks. In contrast, by Q1 2021, the average wait time had increased to between 15-18 weeks.
In our view this problem can best be solved by either adapting or ending the administrative reforms introduced during the pandemic, so that the typical waiting period for a substantive hearing is decreased.
Moreover, this research underlines how a comprehensive package of financial measures needs to be introduced with a view to specifically helping tenants pay off rent arrears accrued during the pandemic. Taking this step will help the sector to manage the transition to a balanced, fair post-Covid PRS, and is the best way to enable landlords to sustain tenancies as much as possible over the next year.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Whilst these findings show how landlords and tenants have responded with admirable resolve in the face of unprecedented challenges across the sector, they also reveal the dysfunction which continues to lie at the heart of the court system across England and Wales.
“We also call on courts across England and Wales to urgently address disruption which only serves to impede the creation of a private rented sector which works in the interests of all.”
“The majority of landlords have complied with the Government’s requests to show understanding during a time of national crisis. Now is the time to respond to landlords’ concerns about the future of the PRS by introducing a package of financial assistance that will provide greater security to many landlords and tenants over the long term.