Minister reveals more details of looming PRS reforms during scrutiny session

The government has vowed that the court process for possessions will be efficient and swift when it refines the much-expected PRS reforms.

Giving evidence to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities committee on its White Paper, newbie Housing Minister Felicity Buchan (pictured) said it was working on proper guidance around dealing with anti-social behaviour that included local authorities and the police.

“We need to be in a position when someone’s committing ASB there’s an efficient way to remove them,” she said.

“We’re working with the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice to introduce reforms to make the possession process as efficient as it can be for landlords while protecting tenants’ rights.”

Housing court dismissed

While dismissing the idea of a housing court, she insisted that mediation would be a sensible route to follow, despite many of the MPs on the committee questioning whether this would be appropriate when dealing with potentially greater numbers of tenants challenging rent rises at tribunals, putting more strain on the courts.

On the proposed property portal, Buchan said there would be a small registration fee, while Charlotte Spencer, DLUHC director PRS and leasehold, revealed that it didn’t expect local authorities to inspect every single property.

“We would probably be relying on a degree of self-certification, then a random sample of inspections,” she said.

Selective armoury

Spencer added that selective licensing would still be needed as part of the tools in local authorities’ armoury but that it was keen to minimise requirements for duplication in the portal.

clive betts mp

Committee chairman Clive Betts (pictured) said it was very sceptical that the justice system would deliver on the department’s intentions and challenged the minister over why affordability wasn’t addressed in the White Paper.

He also asked when the Bill was likely to be introduced. Buchan again dodged the question but insisted: “It’s a key priority of government – there’s a desire to get on with it.”

The committee’s report will be published early in the new year.

Watch the session in full.

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