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Justice Reform

Improving justice for tenants and landlords



Landlords do not have to go to court often. Generally, most tenants pay their rent and do not breach their contract. However, when they are forced to go to court by poor tenant behaviour it is clear that the justice system is failing them.

The process is expensive, beset by delays with judges often unaware of the nuances of landlord and tenant law. Landlords and tenants are confused and frustrated by the system. 79% of landlords who used the court's say they were dissatisfied in our research. Citizen's Advice has also found that tenants are put off seeking redress by the complexity and delays.

The courts are overstretched and underfunded. Worse the bailiff service is so slow that in some areas of the country it can take over a year for one enforce a possession order.

It is little wonder then that landlords prefer to simplify this process as much as possible. They do this by using a section 21 notice to regain possession of their property when the tenant has breached the terms of their contract. Good landlords who have protected their deposits properly, given all the paperwork they are required to and provided the tenants with a safe home, can reliably regain the property at the end of the fixed term with this notice.

What is the RLA calling for?

  • the introduction of a properly funded, specialised housing court with new online systems to help landlords and tenants
  • reducing bailiff wait times so that landlords do not have to wait months to regain possession of their properties
  • improving grounds based possession and retaining section 21 until grounds based possession is fit for purpose

What is the RLA calling for on court reform?

The RLA is calling for wholesale reform of the justice system. We believe that the only way to solve these delays is to introduce a specialist low-cost housing court with judges who are experts in housing law. this would not only improve the experience for landlords but it would allow tenants to feel comfortable seeking redress from the few criminal landlords.

Our research has shown that 98% of landlords would support the introduction of a new court. We have supported landlords by making the case for this in consultations and meetings with the government and we are now calling on all parties to commit to this in the election.

Similarly, landlords should not have to face a 5-month delay in regaining possession of their property when their tenant is anti-social or in rent arrears. The wait for bailiffs is far too long. In some areas of the country it can take over a year for a bailiff to visit the property after the landlord has applied to court.

We have made the case to the government that the bailiff service must be improved so that it becomes as efficent and effective as the High Court Enforcement Officers.

Housing court consultation response
Last updated: 05/11/2019 at 11:37 - 640.29 KB

Research Provided by RLA PEARL. See more

Landlords who want a housing court
Section 21s served for arrears
Weeks the average landlord waits for a bailiff

Download Full Report



The RLA is calling for the retention of Section 21 until private landlords have confidence in any new system. They must be able to swiftly regain possession of their property with certainty.

We have formed a 'Fair Possessions Coalition' with other groups that represent landlords and agents. Together, we will warn the Government of the dangers of removing Section 21 in isolation. If this happens then we risk losing investment in the sector at a time of increasing demand.

Retaining landlord confidence will require a suite of substantial reforms to the possession process. This includes a new housing court with much faster bailiffs. It also requires greatly enhanced grounds for possession to make section 8 fit for purpose.

Until all of this has been achieved the RLA believes Section 21 should be retained. Only when landlords have confidence in the new possession route will they continue to invest in the sector.

Possession Reform Consultation
Last updated: 05/11/2019 at 11:40 - 191.00 KB


  • The RLA raises over £6000 to back a legal case protecting landlord rights to repossess properties. This follows a recent court case in which a landlord’s attempt to regain their property was deemed invalid,due to a dispute over a gas safety certificate. You can read more about this here. 
  • The results of the largest ever non-governmental survey of the PRS have now been published by the RLA. The research reveals wide spread support for court reform and that a majority of landlords may leave the sector if section 21 notices are removed.
  • The Government has launched a consultation on introducing a specialist housing court. This was suggested by the RLA in its 2017 election manifesto.


  • RLA highlights long court delays for landlords - The Times
  • Almost half of landlords would sell if section 21 is removed - The Telegraph


“I went down the Section 21 route because I didn’t have confidence in the Section 8 process, as it can be very hard for landlords to provide proof. Section 21 meant that I could get my property back quickly”


I’d be comfortable with the idea of Section 21 going if the Section 8 grounds were beefed up first. I’d also like to see the whole system streamlined, and for a dedicated Housing Court to be in place.


If Section 21 were to go I would only rent to professionals because I don’t want to be left in a situation where a tenant is in my property who cannot afford to pay the rent.


Part of the reason I invest in the properties is so my children can live in them one day, and it will also provide me with a pension. I have been defrauded by subletting tenants in the past, and if Section 21 were to go and I thought I would struggle to get my property back if I needed to in the future, I would consider selling up and investing elsewhere.



The RLA understands that the courts and possession process are costly, time-consuming and complex. that is why we provide a number of services to help our members minimise the risk when seeking possession.

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