It now takes private landlords across the UK more than five months on average from making a claim to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening, with the problem most acute in London, new figures show.
The data reveals that the average length of time from a claim from a landlord in London to a court issuing an order for a property to be repossessed for legitimate reasons is currently 30 weeks, up from 23 weeks a year earlier.
Landlords in London have the longest wait in the country followed in second place by those in the North East who have to wait an average of 23.5 weeks.
The findings suggest that a major problem contributing to the backlog is the fact that the courts are unable to cope when landlords look to repossess properties for legitimate reasons.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning that without major reform and greater funding for the courts the time taken to process cases will only get worse as Ministers prepare to end Section 21 repossessions.
The RLA is calling on the government to establish a dedicated housing court with a view to improving and speeding up access to justice for landlords and tenants in the minority of cases where something goes wrong.
John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA, commented: “If landlords feel that they might have to wait forever to regain possession of their property where they have good reason, such as tenants committing anti-social behaviour or failing to pay their rent, increasing numbers are going to feel it is not worth the risk of letting the property out in the first place.
“This will just add to the already growing shortage of investment in rented housing which is badly needed to meet a rising demand.
“The RLA was delighted when the government consulted on its proposal for a housing court a year ago but nothing has happened since. It needs to get on and get it set up for the benefit of landlords and tenants alike.”