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Considering the case for a Housing Court - Law Society response
We’ve responded to a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consultation exploring the case for a specialist housing court.
The MHCLG is seeking views and opinions from the judiciary, landlords and tenants to help to better understand and improve the experience of people using courts and tribunal services in housing cases. This includes considering the case for a specialist Housing Court.
We argue that the case for a housing court has not been properly put forward and that further evidence is on why improvements within the scope of the current system will not suffice.
We recommend that improved resourcing of existing courts and signposting parties to advice and information would ensure cases are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.
We recommend that parties must be better supported to prepare for their case, and government must do more to manage expectations of the court process.
We note that some private landlords do not understand the complexities of their case and are often reluctant to pay for legal advice. Such advice would ensure they understand the defences and counter-claims available to tenants, as well as the built-in safeguards within the legal process. However, without this knowledge, landlords often complain about perceived ‘delays’.
It is also noteworthy that many defendant tenants are unable to secure legal advice before the first hearing. For many tenants, the only expert advice they receive is at the door of the court through the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme.
The lack of availability of legal aid compounds issues which could be resolved at a much earlier stage with expert advice from qualified legal professionals.
The consultation closed on 22 January 2019.
The government is currently analysing the feedback.