By Claire West

The Residential Landlords Association is adding the voice of its member landlords from the private rented sector to a major Downing Street petition next week.

Their target is the country's "unscrupulous tenants" who use the law to live rent free while hiding behind a flawed court system. But the landlords have had enough - and are asking for changes to the law to speed up the eviction process when there is a clear case of either non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour.

They want a law that allows them better rights of access to their own property when rent is with-held or there is a history of repeated bad behaviour. And they would like the government to think again over plans to close a string of county courts - which, they fear, will delay the procedure for re-gaining possession of their property even more.
The Residential Landlords Association is joining Landlord Action and the Southern Landlords Association to deliver their joint petition to No. 10 on 15 November.

Their "Rebalancing the Law" campaign, supported by Hove and Portslade MP, Mike Weatherley, is a public stand on behalf of over a million private sector landlords in the UK.

"When a tenant refuses to pay rent, or has anti-social behaviour issues that cannot be resolved, then they must be evicted," says RLA chairman Alan Ward. "But, under the present system, this can take up to six months and, as a result, landlords with mortgages are losing properties as well as the chance for decent tenants to take their place.

"And protecting the county court network is essential to this. There is already an unacceptable delay because of the workload at county courts - yet the government is responding to this by actually closing courts around the country ... so the remaining courts will be even busier.

"Residential landlords are among the few businesspeople who regularly have to use the court service as part of their day to day work. So, to us, an efficient, effective and above all speedy court service is vital."

To support the petition go to www.rla.org.uk