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Changes to Court Procedures

The UK coalition government has published proposals to reform the way cases are handled in the county courts. In respect of housing litigation, the proposals include retaining the £1000 small claims limit to housing disrepair cases and the provisions of the protocol mandatory for rent arrears and mortgage possession cases.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is the 30 June 2011.

The protocol for rent arrears applies to social landlords, such as local authorities and housing associations, not to private landlords.

The protocol reflects the guidance on good practice given to social landlords and private registered providers in the collection of rent arrears. It recognises that it is in the interests of both landlords and tenants to ensure that rent is paid promptly and to ensure that difficulties are resolved wherever possible without court proceedings.

Its aim is to encourage more pre-action contact between landlords and tenants and to enable court time to be used more effectively. The protocol requires specifically for the landlords to contact a tenant as soon as possible after the tenant’s rent arrears accrue, to discuss the arrears, the tenant’s financial position and his or her entitlement to benefits.

The protocol no doubt leads to suspended possession orders in order to allow the tenant the opportunity to repay the arrears however, given the current problems we have with court backlogs this is a welcome consultation as it is hoped that it will assist with reducing the number of claims issued.

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