Propertymark: Time to privatise bailiffs to hasten possessions



The bailiff system should be privatised to ease the burden on the Ministry of Justice and drive-up efficiencies, estate agency body Propertymark has said.

The organisation made the recommendation with one eye on the government’s Renters’ Reforms White Paper, which is being released early next year.

The body said: “Waiting times for Privatise County Court Bailiffs (CCB) differ drastically throughout England and Wales depending on geographic location and need.

“To further improve the situation, we believe that the county court bailiff system should be privatised, as is the case with High Court Enforcement Officers.

“The process could be outsourced to providers who work to clear guidelines relating to qualification and certification of private bailiff officers.

“Through a tendering process the UK government could grant licences to certified private bailiff providers.

“A lack of CCBs in many areas attributes to delays in enforcing a Possession Order.

Bailiff“This would relieve the Ministry of Justice from funding the service and a fee could be charged to prospective service suppliers.

“There would be no loss to tenants with the same level of oversight as already exists in the High Court.”

Propertymark’s recommendations can be found in its Future of Renting Paper, which made a wide range of calls to the government.

Section 21

The body noted that if Section 21 is to be scrapped then the court system needs to be properly funded to speed up the system when landlords look to regain their properties.

There could also be a system where landlords can provide evidence when applying for an online possession claim to take away caseloads from the courts.

Meanwhile landlords should be allowed to possess their property for a family member to live in the property.

Rent controls

Propertymark called for the avoidance of rent controls, which are set to be introduced by 2025 in Scotland thanks to the Scottish National Party teaming up with the Scottish Green Party,

The group said: ““Evidence tells us that rent controls are unable to effectively regulate rent levels. They are more likely to cause the private rented sector to shrink and will not benefit vulnerable tenants.

“With a shortage of supply landlords will be able to select the most attractive tenants, pushing vulnerable, low-income households.”

Universal Credit

The organisation thinks changes need to be made to Universal Credit, to make sure it’s effective for landlords and tenants.

In order to make benefits work better tenants should have the option to pay the housing element of the benefit to the landlord (currently this can be done once tenants fall into arrears). Meanwhile Local Housing Allowance rates should be raised so more landlords feel confident in renting to those on benefits.

Written tenancy agreement

Propertymark recommended for written tenancy agreements to be a requirement, in order to avoid disputes and costs for tenants at the end of the tenancy.

It wrote: “Landlords and tenants should be provided with details of how to raise issues and the importance of reporting concerns at the earliest available opportunity.

“Managing expectations in this way helps prevent disputes arising from misunderstandings or a lack of awareness as well as providing information to report issues and concerns so they can be resolved at the earliest available opportunity

Conclusion

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark policy and campaigns manager, said: “The private rented sector will be a keen focus for the UK government in 2022 and our Future of Renting Position Paper sets out a strong set of recommendations to improve consumer protections, support landlords and build on existing good practice.

“We need to see collective oversight from all government departments that interact with the sector, putting overall policy development in the context of supply, tenancy management, being a tenant, inspections and enforcement, access to justice and future-proofing the sector.

“Further change is non-sensical without regulating letting agents, and if the UK government remove Section 21 it should be replaced with a system that makes all grounds mandatory. Additionally, any plans to extend redress membership to landlords should be to those who self-manage property only.”

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