Terms of Business
7th February 2018
(a) ‘Landlord Action’ refers to ‘Landlord Action Ltd’. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Number 605660.
(b) Cases are handled by the Legal Team at Landlord Action, Premiere House, 1st Floor, Elstree Way, Borehamwood WD6 1JH. A named case-handler will be responsible for day-to-day care of your case, supervised by Tim Frome. If the supervisor changes, we will tell you straight away.
(c) We confirm details and send invoices by email (post if requested).
(d) With litigation, delays can happen. We will keep you up to date on progress.
2. Progressing Your Matter
(a) We aim to resolve your matter successfully.
(b) We will advise you of timings and key events by email.
(c) If we find any information that might affect your case, we will let you know and explain its effect. We may need to call you. If you’re not able to take the call we will email you to ask for a time when we can call again. Generally we don’t accept incoming calls because most of the time, the legal team are dealing with cases. You can leave a message and they will contact you. Communication should be by email. We respond as soon as possible. Sometimes, this may be in the evening but should not be later than the next working day.
(d) In order to provide a fixed fee service, we ask that all emails and calls to us are kept to a reasonable quantity. We will monitor emails and calls to us and make additional fees on a timely basis for excessive contact by clients. You will be put on notice should this arise. To ask about your case, email your case handler.
(e) We use the information that you provide on the Information Form and your supporting documents to create your claim. If you provide us with inaccurate information, we are not responsible should the claim fail because of this. It is imperative that you complete the Information Form accurately. If the named landlord on the tenancy agreement is not the owner of the property, you must tell us the name of the owner(s) immediately. Failure to do so may result in a costs order against you and the claim being struck out by the court.
(f) The Deposit Legislation is complex and easy to get wrong. If you haven’t followed the deposit legislation correctly or provided us with incorrect information about your deposit which is discovered after proceedings are issued then your case may have to be abandoned and restarted once your deposit has been regularised. You will be required to pay additional fees to start a new case in such circumstances. If you are unsure about the situation with regards to your deposit we can check this for you for an additional fee.
(g) Under Section-8, if a tenant has a disrepair issue, the court may adjourn and you will lose time and incur more costs. So before proceedings are issued you must tell us about any disrepair issues that the tenant has raised and we can look at possible solutions.
(h) Under possession proceedings, the way that the notice has been drafted and served is critical to the claim. If the notice is wrong, the claim is likely to fail. The arrears schedule within the Section-8 notice is fundamental. If we see that it isn’t in the required format, we will recommend that you amend it.
(i) When you instruct us for Step2 but have not used us for the Step1, we check your notice and documents for which you pay £240. This is the non-refundable part of the full Step2 fee for Section 21 Accelerated Possession or for Possession for Rent Arrears. You provide all the details about you and your tenant. If there are defects we advise on what you can do. If everything is okay you pay us the balance of the Step2 fee and we issue your claim.
3. At Court
(a) When a Court hearing is required the landlord must attend, or appoint an agent to attend. An agent is a letting agent or somebody appointed to manage the tenanted property on a day to day basis. The person attending must have full knowledge of the tenancy and have all relevant paperwork (such as tenancy agreement and up to date arrears schedule) available at the hearing. We’ll write to tell you the date, time and location of the hearing, ensure you have relevant paperwork and an understanding of what happens at court. You or your agent will meet an Advocate at Court who will present your case to the Judge. You won’t be able to call the Advocate – they will call you before the hearing.
(b) If you are seeking possession due to rent arrears and the tenant clears the arrears before the hearing, then it is unlikely that you will get a possession order. If the tenant reduces the arrears to below 2 months’ worth of arrears, then the Judge might order a postponed possession order (provided grounds 10 & 11 have been included in the Section 8 notice) which means you get a possession order but the tenant is permitted to stay provided they pay the rent on time and clear the arrears by an agreed date. Failure to adhere to the order would mean that you can apply for a Bailiff to execute the warrant of possession (evict the tenant(s)). Ultimately, we will always seek to gain an outright order for possession, but when Judges are able to use their discretion it is normally exercised in the tenant’s favour.
(c) When a Section-8 claim is successful, the Judge usually grants a 14 day possession order (within 14 days from the date of the hearing the tenant must vacate). At the hearing, if the tenant pleads exceptional hardship, the Judge might grant a longer period. We would oppose that on the grounds of the landlord’s hardship. The longest period a Judge is allowed to give is 42 days.
(d) Upon a successful Section-8 court hearing, a Possession Order will be granted together with a Judgment for the arrears of rent. (We also make a claim for interest and costs) This is an Order placed on the court file which allows you to enforce it in a number of ways. This Judgment is not a registered County Court Judgment. If you want the Judgment to become a registered CCJ, we can apply for that for an additional fee. How we act will depend on the tenant’s circumstance and we will discuss options and costs with you.
(e) Where your claim is for possession only (Section-21) we normally use the Courts’ accelerated procedure. If you also want to claim for rent arrears will need to use the Court’s standard procedure (no accelerated) or a separate small claim can be issued. Additional fees will apply. If you want to use Section-21 and include arrears, you must inform us before your claim is issued.
4. Bailiff Eviction
(a) If the tenant fails to vacate by the expiry of the Possession Order, a Bailiff can be appointed to carry out the eviction.
(b) The landlord or agent must wait for the Bailiff outside the property, on the street. The Bailiff will only approach the property if he can see somebody outside.
(c) Sometimes a Court’s Risk Assessment Form is sent to the landlord. It must be completed accurately by the landlord for us to send on to the Bailiff. Failure to complete the form could result in the Bailiff cancelling the eviction appointment.
(d) On rare occasions a Bailiff can be late. They usually notify us and we will contact you immediately. We can’t be held responsible for the Bailiff’s failure to attend, or attend on time.
(e) On very rare occasions, tenants refuse to vacate when a Bailiff attends. We can’t be held responsible. If at the time of eviction you feel there is a breach of peace, you should ask the police for help.
(f) If you have opted to instruct a High Court Bailiff to carry out the eviction we will charge you an initial fee set out in our List of Fixed Fees. This will pay for all the costs involved in transferring the case up to the High Court, for the bailiff to send out a warning letter to the Tenant and then attend for a period of time specified on the List of Fixed-Fees. If it is necessary for the bailiff to attend for more than the specified period of time, you will be charged an hourly rate which will be payable by you direct to the bailiff.
5. Client Care
We need our team to meet certain standards. Our standards include: Ensuring landlords receive copies of all substantive correspondence. Effort made to respond to emails and phone calls within 48 hours. Effort made to deal with correspondence without delay. Letters in plain English. There are other standards but these are the main ones that affect your dealings with us. Please remind us if you feel we are not keeping to them.
6. Fees: Step1 and Step2
Our fees are fixed and all-inclusive for undefended (most) cases.
The Fixed Fees are for us to act for you on an undefended basis. Our List of Fixed Fees (which forms part of these terms) tries to take into account the most common requirements and is laid out plainly so that you are not surprised by events. Not all events can be accounted for by Fixed Fees and whenever they’re not applicable we will discuss costs and options with you.
At Step1, if the tenant replies to the notice, we will tell you our fee to respond in that situation.
At Step2, if the tenant files a defence then much of the work that follows falls outside the Fixed Fees. We will write, advising you of our hourly rate (or fixed fee) and our estimated fee for pursuing the claim to a final hearing. If you want to continue the claim and want us to continue to act for you, you will need to put money on account so that we can get straight to work.
While your case stays within the fees listed in the Fixed Fees page, all payments should be made to Landlord Action. We do not to accept cash. If you deposit cash directly with our bank, we may charge you for checks we make to prove the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
8. Limit of Liability
The work we carry out is based on the instructions and information you give us. If any information you provide is incorrect or incomplete, we cannot be held liable for delays or costs that arise. Under the Professional Indemnity Rules firms are required to take out and maintain qualifying insurance. Our insurance details can be seen at our office or you can contact us for the details. This firm’s liability to clients is limited to £3 million for each and every claim. Nothing in this agreement shall benefit any third party and the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 shall not apply.
Clients’ affairs are kept confidential. We only have conversations and correspondence with landlords and agents named on the case and solicitors and advocates acting on their behalf unless we suspect money laundering and we may be required to disclose it to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
10. Identification Requirement
It is a legal requirement for solicitors to obtain evidence of their clients’ identity and sometimes people related to the client or case. To meet the Money Laundering Guidelines we use an electronic ID checking service provided by Creditsafe, a registered Credit Reference Agency. For these searches, we need a copy of your passport or driving licence and a utility bill (less than three months old) in your name at your home address. We may use Personal Information you provide in order to make appropriate anti-fraud checks. The information may be disclosed to a credit reference or fraud prevention agency, which may keep a record of it.
11. Data Protection
The Data Protection Act requires us to tell you that your details are held on our database. We may use these details to send you information that might interest you.
After completing a case, we need to keep a file stored for 6 years. Files will be safely destroyed after 6 years. To retrieve your file from storage the fee is £80 +VAT.
13. Termination of Services
(a) You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time. We may keep all your documents while fees are owed. We will move the case, at no fee, to a solicitor you choose once all monies owed to us have been paid.
(b) If you decide to terminate an action before you send us the Information Form, you will receive a full refund.
(c) If, you decide to terminate Step1 after sending us the Step1 Information Form, you will receive no refund other than the process server fee (if you have paid one and he has not yet attended) because we will have opened the file and started work.
(d) If, you decide to terminate Step2 after sending us the Step2 Information Form, and before case been submitted to court, you will only be refunded the court fee and advocate fee (if any).
(e) If, after you send us the ‘Step1 Information Form’ or ‘Step2 Information Form’, you don’t supply ALL paperwork and information within 30 days of us requesting them, the file will be closed unless you have made special arrangements with us to put the file on hold. For Step1 cases there will be no refund of fees. For Step2 cases you will only be refunded the court fee and advocate fee (if any).
(f) If you decide to terminate a trace after we have sent out the trace request, you will receive no refund.
(g) If you decide to terminate a bailiff request or a Step3 after we have applied to court (even if we have not yet received a date back from the Court) you will receive no refund.
(h) If you instruct us on a Step2 where you have not used us to serve your notice and we find that the notice you have served is invalid we charge a fee for checking your documents and advising what to do.
(i) If you decide to do something yourself at court without us, or move an existing case to another solicitor, or apply for a bailiff without us, you must take us off the record using form N434. If you do not take us off the record we will charge you £600 to cover continued communication, admin, our application to come off record and the court fees. This is because the Court will continue to contact us and we will be obliged to make file notes and communicate with you.
(j) If an action is unsuccessful due to incorrect information you supplied, you will forfeit your fees.
(k) Corrections you want to make to information you have previously supplied must be made in writing. If we have already used the previously supplied information you may need to start the entire, or part of the, process again and so forfeit any fees already paid.
(l) Any refunds may take up to 28 days to process.
(m) We may decide to stop acting for you, only with good reason (e.g. if you don’t pay a bill, we are unable to obtain instructions from you, or there’s a conflict of interest). We will give you reasonable notice that we will stop acting for you.
(n) If we organise a locksmith for you that you later cancel, we will refund the fee less an administration fee of £60. If you cancel on the date of the appointment, you will not receive any refund.
We want to give you our best attention at all times, so if you have a complaint about our service, please write to Patricia Lobo Del Castillo. If you are not satisfied with her response, write to Tim Frome, the Senior Member of the Practice.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can then ask the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to consider the complaint. Normally you need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.
15. Other Matters
(a) If you need clarification on any of these terms of business please email email@example.com
(b) The law governing any dispute arising from these terms of business shall be the laws of England.
16. Our Details
Landlord Action Ltd
Registered in England 3840179
1st Floor, Premiere House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood WD6 1JH
0333 321 9415
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