Section 21 Accelerated Proceedings

Many More Landlords Using Section 21 Accelerated Proceedings This Year.

Since we started in 1999, which incidentally is also the year the accelerated Section 21 procedure was introduced, we have never had so many instructions from landlords and letting agents wishing to proceed to court to obtain possession orders under Section 21.

Last year, there were 34,080 claims issued under the accelerated procedure, which was an all time high since its inception in 1999. I believe 2014 will be even higher.

In quarter one of this year, there were 47,220 claims issued at court for standard procedures with hearing dates and accelerated Section 21s.  In quarter two, there were 38,509 claims issued.

The total number of claims issued for all procedures in 2013 was 170,451. This was 20,000 more than in 2012.

This trend of more and more landlords opting to recover possession using the section 21 entitlement, where a hearing date is not required, is because most want and need their property back as quickly as possible.  Landlords often need to get their defaulting tenants out ASAP as they too can suffer their own financial difficulties if they do not get a paying tenant in and start to receive income to pay off mortgages and other such property running costs. Most simply don’t want to risk the possible complications and delays which can be linked to Section 8, such as tenants filing defences.

The most common defences under section 21 cases are:-

• Deposits not being protected

• Prescribed information not being served correctly

• Incorrect information on the notice

• Section 21 notice served incorrectly

• Tenants requesting a 42 day possession order under mitigating circumstances

Lots of landlords are being forced down this route because tenants are being encouraged by councils to stay in the property and not vacate due to the county’s overwhelming shortage of social housing.  Councils will only act when there has been an eviction date set, therefore, tenants will not leave the property of their own accord as they would effectively make themselves homeless, forfeiting the chance to be re-housed.

Of course, with tenants experiencing cuts to their Local Housing Allowance (LHA) benefit, many landlords are also keen to re-gain possession so that they can re-let their property at a higher rate to private tenants, because demand is so great, especially in the south of England. This is contributing to the shortage of available housing for LHA tenants.

We have many cases where there are quite significant rent arrears, but landlords are writing it off just to get vacant possession, as they know there is little chance of recovery.

In addition, with a more robust sales market once again, lots of smaller landlords (who perhaps never intended to become landlords in the first place) now want to sell their properties, because the increased value in their asset means they are no longer in negative equity. They want to ‘cash in their chips’ while they can.

In my opinion, with such an increase in demand, there will be some big changes in the future with regard to section 21’s, their time limits and when they can be served… so watch this space.

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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