The Law Society has responded to a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consultation exploring the case for a specialist housing court.
We argue that the case for a housing court has not been properly put and further evidence is needed as to why improvements within the current system will not suffice.
We recommend that improvements to resourcing existing courts and signposting parties to advice and information should 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.