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A House of Lords committee is urging the government to find alternatives to court possession cases in a bid to deal with the backlog of eviction hearings as a result of the pandemic.
The committee says: “The stay on housing possession claims protected private and social renters from eviction during the Covid-19 pandemic, and was a significant step in providing security of tenure for most tenants in England and Wales during a difficult period. However, it has contributed to the backlog in the courts, further undermining the timely delivery of justice and placing additional pressure on the justice system.”
It goes on to says: “We recommend that the government considers how alternatives to litigation might be implemented to alleviate the volume of housing repossession cases awaiting disposal in the courts.”
The Lords’ Constitution Committee outlines what the government has done so far to helps courts clear backlogs in all kinds of cases, including possessions.
This includes additional funding, hiring extra staff, modifying courts and other related buildings to make them Covid-safe, and bringing other properties and additional video technology into use.
“However, despite these efforts, the backlog across jurisdictions remains unacceptably high” warns the committee.
It says current plans to clear the backlog appear vague and lack clear targets, and it calls on the government to set out detailed plans for reducing the backlog of cases – including possessions – including a timeline for implementation.