The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has welcomed confirmation from a government minister that the courts will begin to hear possession cases from the latter part of next month, providing greater certainty for the rental market.
Responding to a series of parliamentary questions, Lord Greenhalgh, a minister at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local government said that from the 24 August, “the courts will begin to process possession cases again”.
After what would be a five month suspension, the minister argued that this would be “an important step towards ending the lockdown and will protect landlords’ important right to regain their property”.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, commented: “The minister’s comments provide greater certainty for the rental market.”
The minister confirmed that under plans to end Section 21 repossessions as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, ministers want to ensure that “landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so”.
This means that landlords can, among other issues, take action against renters committing domestic abuse or making the lives of fellow tenants or neighbours a misery.
Research last year by the University of Bristol found that 38% of victims of domestic abuse live in private rented housing, a higher proportion than any other tenure. The charity Refuge, which runs the Domestic Violence Helpline, has said that there has been a 66% increase in calls to the helpline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In cases of domestic violence, landlords will often end the tenancy agreement and offer a fresh one, for the same property, to the victim independent of the abuser, and that is why the NRLA now wants the courts to deal urgently and swiftly with cases concerning anti-social behaviour and domestic violence when they are allowed to begin to hear repossession cases.
The NRLA’s Ben Beadle added: “We continue to work hard with landlords and tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible. In the vast majority of cases this is happening.
“It is vital however that swift action can be taken against those tenants committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
“We are calling also for priority to be given to cases where possession orders were granted prior to lockdown or where rent arrears have nothing to do with the Covid pandemic.”
David Cox, chief executive, ARLA Propertymark, has also welcomed yesterday's announcement that possession cases will recommence on 24 August.
He commented: “We’re very pleased to hear that from 24 August courts will be re-opening and can begin to process the backlog of possession cases.
“We have previously expressed our concern to the Secretary of State for Justice that there could be as many as 62,000 ‘business as usual’ landlord possession claims to be processed across England and Wales so having clarity on when these can be handled is extremely encouraging for landlords and the sector.”