And so the promised ‘call for evidence’ on the need for and outline of a specialist Housing Court has come to pass. And, frankly, what an odd thing it is.
First, the MCHLG press release is headed
Except the one thing that is definitely not happening in this is the unveiling of any actual proposals. There are none in the call for evidence, let alone any actual promises of faster and more effective justice.
So, on to the Call for Evidence itself. The deadline is 22 January 2019, so get those responses in!
But one can’t help but notice that Parts 1 and 2 are basically asking for the landlord experience of courts, with Part 3 on court users per se (both landlords and tenants and representatives) and Part 4, well…
Parts 1 to 3 has questions of a level of ‘have you been part of a court case, if so how was it?’ and ‘did you know you had to apply for a warrant for eviction?’, but Part 4 suddenly starts asking people questions on the extent of court and tribunal jurisdiction, whether there is a need to transfer cases from court to tribunal and vice versa, and if so, what sort of case should be transferred and which way.
This Part 4, let us be honest, requires an understanding of the current roles and jurisdiction of court and tribunal which is beyond a landlord who has brought one possession claim and wasn’t aware they had to get a warrant to evict after a possession order, or indeed virtually any respondent apart from the likes of housing or property management professionals and lawyers.
As a call for evidence, it is something of a curate’s egg. And there is no detail, or even outline, about how a housing court might (as one question asks us whether we think it will): bring about a reduction in costs, and/or improve access to justice and/or improve access for users and/or improvements to the timeliness of housing cases. (That question – 27 – is just odd. In the absence of any specific proposals (and of a ‘don’t know’ answer option) how can anyone really say yes or no?)
Once again, closing date 22 January 2019. Tell MHCLG about court issues in housing, because (judging by this questionnaire) they really do need to know.
My initial view from back in March 2018 is here, and many of these issues still remain.