A couple of notes.
First, an erratum. In yesterday’s post on long leases as ASTs, I originally suggested that once a leaseholder had sublet the whole, assured status was lost and could not be revived. On prompting, I concluded that this was wrong. In fact, if a long leaseholder sublets the whole, then the lease ceases to be an AST, but if the leaseholder later moves back in to occupy the property as their only or principal home, then the assure shorthold status will revive.
This, if anything, makes the situation even worse – for both freeholders and leaseholders. What possession proceedings can be used when? When is relief from forfeiture available, and when not? When is the leaseholder a qualifying tenant for ‘right of first refusal’ purposes and when not? It will all depend on the nature of the leaseholder’s occupation (or not) at any given point. (Yesterday’s post has been amended.)
Second, from the RLA ‘Future Renting’ conference, it appears that an MHCLG consultation on a ‘housing court’ will be going ahead this autumn.
Anne Frost of @mhclg says that consultation about a housing court will be coming out in next couple of months. A vital requirement for the maturing of a private rented sector in our opinion. @RLA_News #futurerenting18
— Douglas Haig (@Douglas_Haig) September 13, 2018
My reservations on the RLA’s idea of a housing court are on record. I am all for a specialist court, with trained judges, but given the latest stats from MoJ on possession cases, I even wonder if a dedicated housing court would be faster (one of the RLA’s key aims).
The median average time from issue of claim to possession order for accelerated possession proceedings is 5 weeks. For all private landlord possession claims (including section 8 claims), the median average time from claim to possession order is 7 weeks. It is hard to see how those could be reduced significantly and still allow for time to file a defence or application for extension on time after service.
(Given that s.21 has a two month notice period and s.8 a variable period, but only two weeks for rent arrears, it would even appear that s.8 may be faster, contrary to widespread opinion.)
The bigger delay is between possession order and eviction. From claim to eviction takes a median average of 16 weeks, so a further 9 to 11 weeks. Enforcement by bailiff is not likely to be changed by a housing court. And it is very doubtful that any housing court would have its own enforcement wing. So, where is the time saving?
It seems it will be an MHCLG consultation. And any specialist court or tribunal would be an MoJ matter. But on we go. Another consultation response to complete.