County Court Staffing Issues Causing Landlords Severe Stress Reclaiming Properties

The last ten years of austerity have badly affected the judiciary as all county courts funds have been drastically cut leading to under staffing, lack of all resources and reduction in the number of courts.

Landlords have had to endure major problems because of the ever growing number of possession claims being submitted, ‘causing misery for landlords’ with considerable loss of revenues due to the severe delays that they are having to face, according to a specialist eviction company.

Most residential possession claims are handled by county courts with county court bailiffs enforcing the ruling. However in a Section 21 case handled by the specialist firm a tenant told the judge that she hadn’t been given a ‘How to Rent Guide’, the court ruled that the case was given a hearing date of 27th June 2019.

Worst still the court date had to be delayed with only 24 hours notice as a judge was unable to attend.

The firm and landlord since then have had to contend with several postponements that ended up with them having to accept a hearing date some twelve months after the Section 21 notice was served in January 2019, the landlord is still unable to gain possession.

A spokesman for the eviction firm said: “We are experiencing cases like this time and time again. It’s not only causing extra work for us, meaning we now have a full-time member of staff whose main responsibility is chasing courts for updates on possession orders, Notice of Issues and bailiff appointments, it is also causing extreme stress for the landlords who are already facing financial hardship as a result of rent arrears.”

The firm is urging the government to substantially increase its funding of the court system in its present state and to make sure that when the Section 21 of the Housing Act is abolished as part of the new Renters’ Reform Bill, that the proposed Housing Court is fit for purpose.

The spokesman continued: “The situation is the worst I have experienced in my 28 years in this industry. Cases are being overlooked, delayed or thrown out due to administrative errors and there is little we can do to improve matters for landlords when we are at the mercy of the courts.

“Remember, many courts were closed due to cost saving by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).”

He also warns that once Section 21 is scrapped the number of court cases will be doubled as landlords will have to use Section 8 notices that require a court hearing.

He added: “I do not believe the government has a thorough understanding of the implication that scrapping Section 21 will have on the courts with the extra administration, recruitment of more judges (which is extremely difficult) and requirement for more bailiffs.

“As I have said many times before, if we do not have a clear message from the MOJ that there will be sufficient investment in the court system, then landlords will lose confidence.

“Combined with all the other changes, some landlords will feel that the length of time to gain possession of their property is too great a risk, so may decide to sell up – we have already seen this at Landlord Action. There must be a call for evidence on the implementation of a Housing Court.”

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