Court Delays Costing Landlords Thousands

Court Delays Costing Landlords Thousands Says Landlord Action.

Landlord Action says under-resourced county courts are exasperated by the number of possession claims being put forward, resulting in costly delays for landlords.  The leading tenant eviction service says it has become such a problem in the last 3 months, that chasing up cases with the courts is now a full-time role for one member of their in-house legal team.

The vast majority of residential possession claims are dealt with in the county courts and enforced by county court bailiffs.  However, Government spending cuts, an ever growing number of possession cases (predicted to be up 15% on last year, according to Landlord Action) and the enforcement by some courts that bailiffs must no longer act alone, only in pairs, have combined to create serious delays in the eviction process, according to Julie Herbert, Head of Legal at Landlord Action.

“We are forever chasing courts for updates on possession orders, Notice of Issues or bailiff appointments.   By the courts’ own admission, cases are getting overlooked, administrative errors are being made and there are simply not enough bailiffs to support the number of cases, leading to long delays.”

This is having serious implications for landlords who are not only losing thousands of pounds in unpaid rent but racking up more legal costs the longer a case goes on.  Some landlords, who are unable to meet mortgage payments as a result, even face possible repossession, in addition to the added risk of their property being left uninhabitable by current tenants, where communication has broken down.

One Landlord, Mr Waller, has had severe delays with his case as a result of the courts losing his claim, twice.  Landlord Action finally obtained a hearing date, which took place on 24th November. Mr Waller said: “Our eviction case has been delayed for almost a year due to severe maladministration by the courts; files were repeatedly lost and the inefficiency we and Landlord Action encountered was astounding. This has been a deeply frustrating experience for us as landlords, but an even more harrowing one for our tenant who desperately wants to be rehoused by the council and needs a court order. We’re in an impossible catch 22 situation, which only the courts can resolve. The negligence and insouciance of certain individuals are quite literally destroying people’s lives.”

Ms Herbert of Landlord Action says another common frustration is when a possession order has been granted and a bailiff appointment confirmed, but the tenant makes a last minute application because they have nowhere else to go. “The standard procedure is that a hearing has to be considered by a judge. We recently learnt that many of these applications don’t even reach a judge, who would have the authority to strike out an application based on the information already provided. Instead, the knee jerk reaction of court staff is to set down a hearing date, in which everyone is dragged to court, only for a judge to pass that the application has no merit.”

This flaw in the system can delay the whole process by as much as 2-3 months.  “We are currently acting on a case where this has happened, and rather than the landlord having his property back by the end of November, there is now a hearing in  January 2015” adds Julie.

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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