A sorry state of affairs – tenant apologises to landlord

A ‘sorry’ state of affairs – tenant apologises to landlord

It’s a topic I have spoken about many times before, but sadly it doesn’t appear to be improving. Councils are still being forced to respond to Britain’s housing crisis by telling tenants who have been asked to leave by their landlords, to stay put until they are evicted. In many cases, landlords are left with thousands of pounds of rent arrears and legal costs, as will be shown on this week’s episode of ‘Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords’ (Channel 5, 9pm).

Landlord Action was recently appointed by IT sales consultant, Dale Prime-Holder. He came to Landlord Action desperately seeking help on behalf of his elderly mother, whose tenant had stopped paying rent for over a year but was refusing to leave the property. They had also discovered that the tenant had moved her daughter, her daughter’s partner and their child into the property.

The rent arrears had reached in excess of £10,000 and Dale’s Mother could no longer afford to wait. I felt particularly saddened when she told me that she felt extremely guilty for having to go down the eviction route and really didn’t want to resort to court proceedings, but felt like she had no choice as she had been using her own pension money to pay for various bills at the property.

On the flip side of this story is the tenant. Dale’s mother had used a reputable letting agent who had carried out all the necessary referencing checks. Unfortunately, referencing cannot predict someone falling into unforeseen financial difficulties. Dale’s mother found 62 letters addressed to the tenant, nearly all of which were chasing money.

As the population has swelled due to people living longer and immigration, the country’s housing stock has failed to grow at the same pace. The resulting imbalance – and the exorbitant rise in house prices, particularly in the south – has pushed rents higher.

It has become very difficult for those on lower incomes to find suitable properties when they try to move, and many are turning to local authorities for help. But those who approach the council are being told they cannot get local authority assistance unless they are homeless, and so should stay in privately rented properties until they are forced out by bailiffs.

On the day of the eviction, the tenant had already left the property before the bailiffs arrived. Then, suddenly she appeared after realising she needed a letter from the bailiffs to prove to the council that she had been evicted. At this point, the tenant apologised to Dale’s mother. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

The councils say they will work with households to avoid eviction yet contradict this by advising that if tenants walk away from the property they have a legal right to stay in, then the council has no obligation to find them housing. Local authorities only have a duty to rehouse them in emergency circumstances – and that is only when the bailiffs are at the door.

Both landlords and tenants are trapped by this system and something needs to change. What’s more, many landlords use a ‘non-fault’ Section 21 notice to evict tenants and forfeit reclaiming rent arrears, which in many ways is to the benefit of the tenant. If the government abolishes Section 21, tenants who fall into rent arrears and are served a Section 8 notice, may find it more difficult to be re-housed.

Watch Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords on Channel 5, Mondays at 9pm

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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