I had a minor operation on my knee last week. As part of the rest and recuperation required to get back on my feet quickly, I’ve been trying my best to follow doctors orders (it’s so hard to sit still!) by taking the opportunity to catch up on some local news, particularly the items that directly impact our market. This caught my eye and I wanted to make sure all my readers knew about it too; the government are in consultation on a proposed Housing Court which would provide landlords and tenants with single path of redress for arising disputes between them.
To protect both tenants and landlords throughout the rental process, there are many legislations (which I often cover) that have been put in place by the government to try and protect both parties. These legislations spell out the letter of the law, particularly in relation rental increases, leasehold disputes, property maintenance, unpaid rent and bills, deposit disputes and property repairs. But the law is not always helpful in maintaining a harmonious landlord/tenant relationship. Differences of opinion are not uncommon and those small differences can quickly escalate into disputes. So I’m keen to know how this housing court will assist in those types of cases.
Personally I would be keen to see more property disputes resolved outside of court. Let’s face it, litigation is costly in time and money and often ends acrimoniously when one party comes off worse. I’m a huge advocate for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is shown through my legal start up company www.resolutionpeople.co.uk. Mediation is the most commonly know method of ADR and often provides the simplest and most effective method of finding an outcome for a dispute, via an impartial, independent intermediary. To substantiate my views on the validity of mediation in resolving disputes, the overall success rate of mediation is incredibly high, with an aggregate settlement rate of 89%*. Of course this is across many different types of disputes – not just property – but that number resonates as it’s a huge number of dispute cases that avoid costly court fees. Maybe it is a balance of both that could genuinely make a real impact in redressing these dispute claims?
The big question is why are these property disputes arise so much in the first place. Data from the Residential Landlords Association suggests that the primary reason for landlords looking to evict a tenant is rent arrears, which accounted for 62% of removed tenants. With the Kent Messenger stating that around 23% of Kent County Council tenants have failed to pay their rent for more than two months, it certainly seems plausible.
We are in our fourth year of trading now and out of approximately 800 tenants that we’ve moved in, we’ve only had to evict one person all the way to bailiffs. This was a family home and the tenants lost their job. We normally negotiate with the tenants who stop paying the rent to leave without resorting to legal action.
Granted, in these cases a more legal approach may be necessary, so in these scenarios a housing court may be the solution. What do you think?
The Government consultation closes on 22nd January 2019 and the relevant documents can be viewed online here. They are asking for feedback from people who have used courts and tribunal services in property dispute cases, if you feel you’d like to have your say. I’d also like to know what you think, both on the housing court and mediation. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call on 07944 726676 or contact me on LinkedIn or Facebook. Get in touch if you’d be prepared to share your views.
*data from CEDR Eighth Mediation Audit