Further delays at court due to strike action by security staff
Agency staff at over 30 civil courts have taken part in industrial action this month. Court staff have warned that certain proceedings will be moved to different sites or heard remotely to minimise delays.
The strikes are due to issues with pay and are being taken by security staff supplied by OCS. It is expected that a number of courts that handle evictions will be dramatically impacted.
Prior to these strikes, landlords have already experienced delays with bailiff appointments following the suspension of evictions during the pandemic, whilst bailiffs sourced urgent PPE. It is said that The Manchester Civil Justice Centre is one of the biggest courts to be impacted, according to The Ministry of Justice.
It has been reported that the following courts dealing with possession claims are likely to be impacted:
- Blackpool County Court and Family Court
- Chester Civil Justice Centre
- Harrogate Justice Centre
- Huddersfield County Court and Family Court
- Manchester Civil Justice Centre
- Lincoln County Court
- North Shields County Court and Family Court
- Prestatyn Justice Centre
- Scarborough Justice Centre
- Skipton Magistrates’ and County Court
- Stockport Magistrates’ Court and Family Court
- Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Centre
- York County Court and Family Court
Further delays can be incredibly frustrating for landlords who have already waited many months for a possession date.
The Ministry of Justice’s target for hearings is eight weeks from the expiry of notice, meaning that it should take no longer than 12 or 13 weeks to obtain possession of a property. However, in the busiest courts landlords can be waiting anywhere from five to 12 months to obtain possession through the courts.
There must be reform and investment in the court system before Section 21 Notices are abolished; once these are removed, all claims will require a hearing and this will put a huge amount of pressure on a system that is already under resourced and overburdened. There have been no firm commitments by the government to tackle the backlog of possession claims and speed up the eviction process, instead the focus is on prioritising cases such as anti-social behaviour.
Eviction should always be a last resort, but landlords must have confidence that they are able to evict tenants swiftly through the courts if needed.
In light of the delays, it is incredibly important that landlords get quality and timely advice to ensure their claims are proceed as swiftly as possible through the court system. Any mistakes with paperwork or lack of evidence to support the grounds for possession could prove very costly and create significant delay.
Our legal team at Woodstock will continue to follow the progress of the reforms and update our readers on any new developments.