The British Property Federation (BPF), an influential trade association representing larger landlords, has warned the abolition of no-fault evictions will be a disaster without improvements to the court system.

Ian Fletcher, BPF Director of Policy, has written an article for Inside Housing stating that the Renters’ Reform Bill has widespread support, but its success will depend on major improvements to the court system.

He writes that “The bill therefore rests on a strong consensus and has wide support. This is because it seeks to strike a balance. Landlords will lose no-fault evictions, giving tenants greater security in their homes. In return, to help landlords gain back their property, there are improved grounds for possession.”

Fletcher argues “This balance, however, also has a third strand to it. A promise by government as part of reform. Not legislative, but practical, to deliver court reform. This is hugely important to landlords because any ground for possession relies on a well-functioning court system. If courts are under resourced and cannot cope with increased volume, then the balance in renters reform breaks down. In other words, the strengthened grounds for possession are only as good as access to the courts for a landlord seeking to exercise them.” 

In October 2023, Housing secretary Michael Gove announced that the abolition of no-fault evictions would only be fully implemented when the courts have undergone improvements.

However, Fletcher is sceptical about the government’s commitment to improving the court system and writes “Reform is needed because ‘normal’ is a very poor service, and with landlords relying solely on court-approved repossessions, normal is all they have. The likelihood is that normal would get worse too, as the workload of the courts increases with the new system.”

“A second myth is that there would be very few additional cases under the new system. Most tenants do not contest current possession claims, and so the argument goes they won’t under the new system. But at present, contesting a possession claim is relatively futile because landlords can rely on the no-faults ground.”

“When that is gone, it is unrealistic to expect that landlords and tenants’ behaviour will not change. Greater insight on the impact of the reforms on court workloads would be helpful, but the government won’t publish its projections.”

Fletcher suggests that a significant improvement would be the digitalisation of the courts. He explains that this would reduce the time individual cases take and increase overall capacity.

You can read the Inside Housing article using link below but some readers may find the website blocks them with a paywall.