England: Proposals unveiled for new Housing Court

Landlords and tenants in England are to receive faster and more effective justice in the event of property disputes, under proposals unveiled by communities secretary James Brokenshire MP.

The UK Government will seek views on a specialist Housing Court which, if created, would provide a single path of redress for both landlords and tenants – meaning both have the security of knowing they have somewhere to go to seek justice, with the power to resolve the dispute.

With housing disputes held in a number of different legal settings, James Brokenshire MP said the process can be confusing and act as a deterrent to some of the most vulnerable seeking justice.

He said: “Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home, and this government is bringing about real change in making renting more secure.

“This is particularly important for families and vulnerable tenants who live with the fear of suddenly being forced to move, or fear eviction if they complain about problems with their home. It is also important for landlords who, in a minority of cases, struggle to get their property back when they have reason to do so.

“The proposals announced today will help ensure both tenants and landlords can access justice when they need it – creating a fair housing market that works for everyone.”

Other proposals include reducing the need for multiple hearings in different courts, transferring certain types of housing cases between the courts and tribunal or vice-versa to ensure cases are resolved quickly and issuing new guidance to help tenants and landlords navigate their way through the legal system.

Changes to further streamline court processes could also provide confidence for landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies, by making it easier for responsible landlords who provide a high-quality service to regain possession of their tenancy should they need to do so.

Responding to the launch of a consultation, David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “The RLA called for a new Housing Court at the time of the last election and in its budget submission. It therefore welcomes this important consultation.

“Improving and speeding up access to justice in this way would be good news for landlords and tenants.

“It will help root out criminal landlords more quickly, give tenants better ability to enforce rights granted by new legislation on property fitness, and give greater confidence to landlords to offer longer tenancies.”

A new structure for tribunals in Scotland came into effect in December 2016 with the launch of a Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland.

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