Extortionate Court Fee Increases Will Impact Landlords

Extortionate Court Fee Increases Will Impact Landlords Seeking Possession.

Landlord Action has lambasted Government plans to increase court fees as “extortionate”.  The planned changes, which take effect from 22nd April 2014, will see fees relating to Section 8 (PCOL) claims and Accelerated (S21) claims, increase by as much as 60%, which Paul Shamplina says are only justifiable if landlords are to receive a more efficient service in return.

Currently the application for possession, which is used after service of a section 8 notice, costs £175, the same as an accelerated possession claim used after service of a section 21 notice. From 22nd April, this will increase to £280.

The possession claim online (PCOL) service, which can only be used after a section 8 notice on rent arrears grounds, currently has a substantially discounted fee of £100. This will rise by 150% to £250, making the discount for using the online system far less appealing.

The Government has stated “the benefits brought by a simplified approach with a fee which reflects the average cost of issuing such proceedings justifies the change.”

Commenting on the extent of the rises, Paul Shamplina questioned “Are the Courts going to employ additional staff to warrant this massive price increase so that landlords are at least getting a more efficient service, such as an earlier hearing date on a Section 8 claim, or a Possession Order following a Request for Possession on a Section 21 case within two weeks rather than six?”

The increases are apparently justified in that the landlord will be able to apply for a costs order against the tenant to recover the costs incurred. Shamplina rejects this arguing that if a tenant can’t pay their rent, which is often why they are being served notice in the first place, it is unlikely that they will pay the costs order that is not even a County Court Judgment.

“The rises are ludicrous and will have a huge impact on those landlords and letting agents that find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to start eviction proceedings. Landlords who are seeking possession of their property are usually already in financial difficulty due to rent arrears or damage to their property, so increasing the cost of fighting this battle, and by such a significant jump, seems wholly unfair” says Shamplina.

He continues, “As a company that has fought for the rights of landlords from the start, we have always endeavoured to ensure our services are priced fairly and competitively.  Whilst we will try to swallow some of these increases, at such a great hike, we will inevitably have to pass some of this on to our landlords and agents. It is actions such as these which discourage new landlords from entering the market, which is concerning at a time where there is a desperate shortage of rental stock.”

Landlord Action says there has been little public warning of the planned rises but suggest it could spark a stampede of possession cases in the next two weeks from landlords trying to beat the rises.

The only fee which is not rising is the warrant of possession when a bailiff is required, which remains at £110.

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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