Ministers have unveiled plans for a specialist “housing court” to speed up the settlement of property disputes between landlords and tenants.
The designated court, according to the government, will be “particularly important” for families and vulnerable tenants “who live with the fear of suddenly being forced to move”.
It comes after the then-communities secretary, Sajid Javid, announced at the Conservative Party conference in 2017 the government would explore the idea to deliver “more effective” justice.
Mr Javid’s successor, James Brokenshire, has now issued a “call for evidence” to consult on the housing court for the next two months – seeking views from tenants, landlords and owners.
Outlining the plans James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, 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.”
He added: “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.
Currently such disputes are heard in the county court before passing through the High Court and magistrates’ court, but the plans would create a streamlined legal service.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said the housing courts would “provide a single path of redress for both landlords and tenants”.
The department added: “The vast majority of landlords are responsible owners, but a number of tenants continue to live with the fear of being evicted at short notice or remain stuck in poor accommodation.
“With housing disputes held in a number of different legal settings, the process can be confusing and act as deterrent to some of the most vulnerable seeking justice.”
Responding to the announcement the Resident Landlords Association said improving and speeding up access to justice “would be good news for landlords and tenants”, adding: “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.”
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