Landlords Face Exorbitant Delays in Property Repossession Due to Court System Failures

Landlords across the UK are confronting unprecedented delays in reclaiming their properties, attributing the bottleneck to a malfunctioning court and bailiff system. Dr. Reneé Hoenderkamp’s ordeal typifies the predicament many face, with her eviction process extending over thirteen months without a bailiff appointment in sight, despite initiating eviction for non-payment of rent and property damage in January 2023.

The sluggish pace at which county court-appointed bailiffs operate forces landlords to seek quicker resolutions through the high court, highlighting the inefficiency plaguing the system. This sluggishness not only exacerbates landlords’ plights but also emboldens fraudulent tenants who exploit the drawn-out eviction process.

Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, expressed his dismay at the prolonged waits landlords endure to exercise their legal rights. He criticized the “system in crisis” for inflicting unnecessary hardship on property owners.

The journey to eviction is fraught with obstacles, as seen in Hoenderkamp’s case. From serving a Section 21 notice in October 2022 to the protracted legal proceedings culminating in a possession order in September 2023, the process is marred by delays, including the issuance of sealed court orders necessary for bailiff evictions.

Hoenderkamp’s frustration is palpable, “The property is trashed and I can’t even get it back to start making the repairs,” she lamented, criticizing the court’s inefficiency in scheduling a bailiff appointment.

Clive Goodman, another landlord, shared his vexation over the absence of available bailiffs in the Lambeth zone, despite fulfilling all procedural requirements. This situation underscores the dire consequences landlords face, especially those dealing with tenants who default on rent or engage in anti-social behavior.

Shamplina emphasised the distinction between Section 8 evictions, which result from tenancy agreement breaches, and the contentious Section 21 no-fault evictions. He argued for the need for reforms, such as allowing landlords to use High Court Enforcement Officers in cases of significant arrears, to alleviate the backlog and facilitate a more equitable resolution process.

With the looming abolition of Section 21, concerns mount over the court system’s capacity to handle an expected surge in possession cases. Shamplina advocates for substantial reforms to ensure the judicial system’s efficiency, transparency, and accountability, lamenting the current state as “the most dire we’ve encountered at Landlord Action.”

This situation calls for urgent governmental intervention to revamp the court system, ensuring landlords and tenants alike receive a fair and timely resolution to their disputes.