Evictions- It’s A Messy Business

Evictions- It’s A Messy Business.

Last week I attended an eviction in East London with the Channel 5 film crew in tow. This was not an ordinary case; the arrears were in excess of £20k as a result of rent not being paid for over 2 ½ years.

The landlord was based overseas and had passed his portfolio of properties to be looked after by a property manager, who was clearly not up to the task.  They had allowed rent arrears to build up on several of his properties. As a further blow to this landlords, he unfortunately instructed a fraudulent legal representative to carry out the evictions.  They did nothing for months and then absconded with the legal fees, leaving the landlord losing thousands of pounds worth of rent on his portfolio.

One of the tenants in question tried to defend the case at the hearing on grounds of disrepair, but had not paid a penny of rent since the beginning of 2013.  The judge ordered the tenant to pay £10,000 off the arrears to defend the case, but of course, nothing was paid.

So at the point of eviction, we turned up with the landlord’s representatives, who brought with them a drill to carry out the lock change themselves. We always advise landlords to instruct a qualified locksmith because when bailiffs turn up on the day of eviction, they only have a 15-20 minute slot to attend before moving on to their next job.  The bailiff knocked on the door but there was no answer from the tenant. You guessed it…the representative could not drill through the lock and we were at risk of not being able to gain access to the property before the bailiff had to leave to do another eviction. This would have resulted in our landlord having to apply to a very busy Bow County Court and wait another 6-8 weeks for a further eviction date.

Luckily, the bailiff was very nice and arranged for an emergency local locksmith to attend, so we waited for another hour for the locksmith to arrive while the bailiff went off to carry out two more evictions.  Once the locksmith had been, the bailiff returned and we were able to enter the property. The first thing that hit me was the smell, the second thing that hit me was how someone could live like this. I’ve been dealing with problem tenants for 25 years and I still find myself shocked at the state that some properties are left in. The tenant had left everything at the property in a complete mess.

Whilst going around each room with the film crew and landlord’s representative, I noticed that the tenant, quite unbelievably, had left his two children’s passports at the property.  Tenants that owe rent and are being evicted, in this case over a lengthy period, just do not accept the fact that the eviction WILL take place. They often make no attempt to move and leave everything until last minute thinking the local council will re-house them and pay for removal vans to take their belongings to a new property.

Of course the reality is, if they are lucky they will go into temporary accommodation and then be moved permanently depending on housing stock. In this case, the tenant should not be re-housed as he has made himself homeless by not paying the rent for 2 ½ years.  After the eviction took place, I heard the tenant broke back into the property to take some belongings and threatened to sue the landlord because he wanted the passports back.  I believe the landlord’s representative handed these to the police as they thought the tenant had absconded and would be unlikely to make contact with the landlord (maybe because he owed over £20k in arrears).

Hopefully this story will feature in the series for Channel 5 which comes out the end of June.

Precise Treatment Reduces Pain

Detail needs experts. Expert time is worth it when it saves you a costly mistake. Main objective: Get the property back. Best action: Very precise treatment.

Serving a notice is actually the most important part of the possession process.

It isn’t complicated but one tiny error can cause dreadful problems.

That’s why we say, don’t DIY and don’t use internet amateurs. It’s not worth it.

1. Compliance Errors
If the tenant doesn’t leave at Step1, the notice had better be valid. Because then it has to go to court. Any little error can get a case thrown out. And you have to start all over again.

2. Attempting Short-Cuts.
In an effort to be quick, some internet services aimed at landlords are using short-cuts around the process. But if the tenant doesn’t leave (50%) these practices can backfire at court and the case thrown out.

3. Trying to Save Pennies.
Internet services have mushroomed and landlords can expect to get what they pay for. To get the process done PROPERLY it takes a certain amount of time for an expert to look over a file and be accurate. Our fees cover that expert time.

Chasing courts for dates, arranging advocates and preparing court papers is time consuming. Especially if you’ve never done it before.

Some landlord and agents have served notices themselves. They believed they were saving a few pounds but it often ended up costing them more.

If you lose a claim, the court can order you to pay the tenant’s defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Our in-house Solicitors are there to get your property back as fast as they can. And we protect landlords and agents from themselves.

As experts, we know that in the rush to get things done, errors can happen. And those errors can can come back later to mess up your case – and the whole process has to start again.

You can speed things up – give us accurate information quickly. Help us to help you.

There are services on the web who will prepare papers BUT they get you to pay the court-fee separately and get you to sign the court papers – so in fact they don’t represent you!

If your notice (at Step1) wasn’t drafted or served correctly you risk wasting your court fees and losing a whole lot of time because of a small error.

We won’t let your case anywhere near a court until we have checked every little detail. To make sure you don’t waste time or money, at Step-2 we first only charge part of the fee.

If your notice is fine, then you just pay the balance of the fee and we issue the claim. If there is a problem with your notice or paperwork, we will advise you what to do next.

Courts take the view that possession proceedings can make someone homeless. So they are very careful. If there’s any error in the notice, they throw the case out. It’s the process. Get it right or lose.

If the notice is invalid, you have to start all over again. The weeks or months you’ve waited are wasted. If there were rent arrears, there are now more.

If there weren’t rent arrears, they might now start. More fees. More lost rent. And still no possession. Tenants can be alerted to making a counter-claim.

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