Retaliatory Eviction Legislation

“Retaliatory Eviction” Legislation.

On Monday I attended Parliament to give evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for The Private Rental Sector before cross party MPS.  I was there to offer my views and experience of landlords Serving Section 21 Notices in retaliation to tenants requesting repairs to be carried out on their rental property.

The proposed Private Members Bill has been put forward by Sarah Teather MP, to stop rogue landlords serving Section 21 Notices and evicting tenants who complain about disrepair issues, instead of carrying out these repairs. When a complaint is received by the Local Authority, they will contact the landlord to resolve the problem.  If that fails, the Council will serve a Notice of Works to be carried out.

I agree tenants need to be protected,  but I feel the best way forward is for rogue landlords to be named and shamed.  Landlords should be prosecuted by the Councils for non- compliance and a “three strikes and you’re out” rule should also be implemented, meaning that the landlord would have a banning order preventing them from renting out properties in the future.

The All Party Parliamentary Group will hear further evidence next Monday and then provide its report to the Government.  The bill is due to be heard in Parliament on the 28th November 2014.

My main fear when the bill was first announced, was the effect it would have on the majority of good landlords, because it opens the floodgates for tenants to damage properties on purpose and then make spurious claims.   Other issues include the added delays as a result of Environmental Health Officers having to inspect properties that have been reported, trouble with gaining access which could also cause delays, rent not being paid and an increased number of defended cases at court.

Three weeks ago, Landlord Action conducted a telephone survey with 100 landlords that had instructed them to serve Section 21 notices.  The results found that only 2% of our landlords had served a section 21 because the tenant had asked for repairs to be carried out.  28% served notice because there were rent arrears and 15% needed the property back so they could sell, 13% needed to move back into the property, 11% wanted to re-let to another tenant to obtain more rent and 8% said the tenant wanted to be evicted so they could be re-housed by the Council.

We plan to carry out a more extensive survey in the very near future, but my concern is that some groups have been labeling the service of a Section 21 as ‘Retaliation’,  when you can see, the numbers are actually very low.  Shelter had also said that 2% of landlords served notice under Retaliation, which with our figures we agreed with, and Sarah Teather has quoted that figure in her article in the Guardian.

However, we disagree with Shelter’s figures that this equates to 213,000 tenants being asked to vacate because of ‘retaliation’.  I also disagree with statistics that Sarah Teather says that 14% of families in London have been hit with Revenge Evictions.

You have to realise that Section 21 is non-fault and landlords do not have to give a reason why they want their property back, so actually, most of the time tenants may not know the reason.  With property prices in London rising by as much as 10% this year, many Landlords simply want to sell and take advantage of the market, especially when a lot have been stuck in negative equity for so long.  Others have more personal reasons as to why they want possession, as highlighted in our survey.

If you wish to read a blog that I wrote about the all time high levels of Accelerated Section 21 Possession we have experienced, please click >>> here.

In summary, we must now wait until the 28th November to see if the Bill will be heard in Parliament

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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