NRLA win as government to open extra courts
Temporary courts are being opened to deal with the backlog of eviction cases created by coronavirus. Chief Executive Ben Beadle explains how NRLA campaigning has brought about real change.
The first ‘Nightingale Courts’ set up to tackle the backlog of court cases and tribunals that have built up as a result of coronavirus have opened their doors this week.
The decision to open extra court space for cases, including possession hearings, is a huge win for us here at the NRLA, where we have been campaigning on behalf of members for swift access to justice for landlords – particularly those who had started proceedings prior to lockdown.
Indeed, it is also a big win that section 21 and section 8, ground 8 have been left intact and not made discretionary grounds. We are delighted the Minister has taken on board NRLA’s representations on behalf of landlords
The average time between claim and repossession pre-Covid was far too long already at more than 26 weeks and we have long campaigned for the government to make use of other public buildings to increase capacity.
Improvement to the legal system was one of the major pillars of our roadmap to Covid recovery, a five-point plan that we have been discussing with government. We are delighted that ministers listened to what we had to say, and will be investing £142 million on technological improvements and modernising courtrooms.
We have also been championing the case for wider court reform and the introduction of a specialist housing court and it could be that these new courts could provide a model as to how this could operate.
There have been other wins when it comes to the courts.
Our campaign for priority to be given to cases involving abusive or anti-social tenants, along with those cases started before lockdown, has also been given government backing, with Housing Minister Christopher Pincher confirming this will happen.
These moves prove our work with Government is seeing results, with the news giving landlords greater certainty and confidence.
What any landlord progressing with a possession claim needs to be aware of, is that the Government has changed the rules around the court process as a result of Covid-19.
The new Civil Procedure Rules, announced earlier this month, state landlords need to confirm they wish to ‘make or continue’ with a claim by filling in a reactivation notice and sending it to the court and the tenants.
They also have a duty to be aware of the way in which tenants circumstances have been affected by coronavirus. You can read more detail here.
It is vital you abide by these rules if you want your claim to progress.
What the government also said when making the changes was that landlords - wherever possible - should NOT pursue non-priority cases through the courts.
Even with the extra capacity, court waiting times are expected to experience delays.
That is why we have developed our own Covid-19 and arrears guide – to support landlords hoping to set up a mutually beneficial arrangement with their tenants.
You can read more about the guide – and watch a video on it below.
In addition to the guide – which has been endorsed industry-wide - we are also supporting the government’s calls for landlords and tenants who cannot come to an agreement to consider mediation, in which an independent third-party helps both parties resolve their dispute, without the matter needing to go to court.
As landlords it is in our interests to keep good tenants in their homes and eviction is not, and should not be seen as the inevitable outcome of getting behind with rent payments.
For more information about our successful Covid campaigns work click here.