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Propertymark Calls for Specialised Housing Court to Alleviate County Court Delays

Propertymark, the professional body for the property sector, has once again urged the Government to create a specialised housing court. This move aims to alleviate the burden on county courts dealing with private rental sector (PRS) disputes and expedite the possession process.

In its submission to the House of Commons justice committee’s inquiry into county court operations, Propertymark highlights the current delays as unacceptable and suggests leveraging technology to enhance service efficiency. The group points out that the average waiting period for a warrant in PRS possession claims has stretched to approximately 29 weeks, with London cases sometimes extending to 40 weeks.

A key proposal from Propertymark is the digitisation of the fees schedule to expedite justice delivery and prevent paperwork from causing delays. The organisation also urges the Ministry of Justice to prioritise complex possession cases, especially those involving anti-social behaviour.

Furthermore, Propertymark proposes that landlords and agents be granted an automatic right to a high court enforcement officer. This would bypass the need to first apply for a writ of possession through the county court, significantly speeding up the process.

The group also recommends the government consider additional mandatory grounds for possession under a Section 8 notice. These grounds include persistent late rent payments, failure to allow property inspections, acquiring the property through false information, and breaching the tenancy agreement.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, comments: “We hope that through the work of the committee, the need for a dedicated housing court can form part of UK government thinking going forward and be the desired outcome for long-term reform and overall benefit to the sector.”

Despite widespread support from various stakeholders in the PRS, the Government earlier this year expressed opposition to the establishment of a dedicated housing court for evictions.