Landlord Action Terms of Business
21 July 2020
– Landlord Action offers a fixed fee service when your case fits the standard profile for an end of tenancy (s.21), rent arrears (s.8) or common law notice to quit matter.
– Your case will be assigned to the Legal Team which contains solicitors and legal advisers.
– We aim to correspond by email as this is the quickest and simplest method to provide either a review or give you an update on your case.
– For step 1 reviews we require the instruction form, paperwork and payment then we will conduct the review within five working days.
– For step 2 court claims we require authorisation to act, paperwork and payment and then we will review the matter and aim to issue the claim within five working days.
– If your matter becomes complex or defended then it will fall outside of our standard fixed fees and we will attempt to provide you with a new fixed fee to progress your matter or we will revert to an hourly rate as set out below.
– If the matter is more complex to begin with then we will undertake a solicitor check and review then outline your options and how we can assist you.
(a) You are instructing ‘Landlord Action’ which is a trading name of ‘Landlord Action Ltd’.
(b) We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) with SRA Number 605660.
(c) Landlord Action is a fully owned subsidiary of HFIS Plc (t/a Hamilton Fraser). Hamilton Fraser is not authorised by the SRA but is by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
(d) Cases are handled by the Legal Team at the Landlord Action office. Different aspects of your case may be dealt with by different people in the Legal Team. The Legal Team is supervised by our Compliance Officer for Legal Practice, Tim Frome. If the supervisor changes, we will inform you immediately.
(e) We always try to offer fixed fees for the services we provide but if the matter is not straight forward or becomes defended then we will advise you and provide our hourly rates and give costs estimates for each step. We will require you to confirm that you agree to continue instructing us on that basis.
(f) Please note that we cannot be held responsible for any delay in your issuing instructions and the impact such delay might have on the conduct of your case.
(g) Upon instruction we are required to undertake anti-money laundering and conflict checks on you. We will set you and your matter up on our case management software and the matter will be assigned to our Legal Team.
2. Client Care
(a) We require all members of our team to meet certain standards. We expect our clients to receive copies of all substantive correspondence.
(b) Although we may need to take 5 – 10 working days to complete a review at either Step 1 or Step 2, we will always try to respond to emails within 48 working hours.
(c) If you feel we are not providing you with the service you expect then please see clause 16 regarding dissatisfaction.
3. Progressing Your Matter
(a) Landlord Action’s standard eviction service operates on a fixed fee three step process:
Step 1 – case review and notice drafting (s.8, s.21 or notice to quit)
Step 2 – drafting and issue claim through to obtaining possession order
Step 3 – regain possession using bailiff or high court enforcement officer
(b) If you instruct Landlord Action at Step 1 then we will require payment in advance of the advertised Step 1 fee. On receipt of payment and the initial paperwork we will review your matter and provide our advice within five working days. The advice will set out the position on which notices can be drafted or whether further action needs to be taken before any notices are served. If a notice can be served based on the information provided then we shall do so as part of the Step 1 review. If further information or action is required as a result of the review then you will be required to instruct us accordingly and if necessary pay any further fees before we can serve the notice.
(c) If you instruct us at Step 2 then the position depends on whether we undertook Step 1. If we undertook Step 1 then you are required to confirm that you agree to us drafting your claim and provide us with any further information we require to be able to do so. If you did not instruct us for Step 1 then we will be required to review your notice and the paperwork to confirm that the claim can be drafted. We require the full fee in advance which includes a sum as advertised to undertake a review. If after the review the notice is correct we will draft and issue the claim. If there are any issues with the notice then we will explain this in our review and inform you what is required to draft a correct notice. You can then instruct us to rectify the position and the matter goes back to step 1. We will use the extra money you have paid to cover the step 1 fees then request any balance if the matter proceeds back to step 2. If we cannot rectify the situation or you do not wish to instruct us further then we will keep our review fee and refund the rest of the step 2 amount you paid.
(d) If you instruct us at Step 3 we can apply for either a county court bailiff or instruct a high court enforcement officer to undertake the eviction if the Possession Order so allows. The fees for both services are as advertised.
(e) If you instruct us for a Solicitor check and review then we must receive an instruction form, paperwork and payment ahead of the matter being assigned to a solicitor to review the papers and provide you with advice on the position. This advice will explain the position and your options going forward. If the matter can proceed under our three step process then we will let you know. If the matter is more complicated then we will advise of your options and if you require further advice after the initial review then we can continue to assist but will proceed under our hourly rates as advised.
(a) We will advise you of timings and key events by email.
(b) If we find any information which may affect your case we will let you know and explain its effect. Generally we do not accept incoming calls as this distracts the Legal Team who are dealing with cases. Communication should be by email and we will always try to respond within 48 working hours. We may however need to call you. If you are not able to take the call we will email you to ask for a time when we can call again.
(c) In order to provide a fixed fee service, we ask that all emails to us are kept to a reasonable level. We will monitor emails and calls to us and if necessary we may be required to charge additional fees on a time basis for excessive contact by clients. You will be put on notice should this arise. The hourly rates are set out below in paragraph 7.
(d) We use the information you provide on the Information Form and your supporting documents to be able to draft the notice or claim. If you provide us with inaccurate information, we are not responsible should the claim fail because of this. It is imperative 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 for which we cannot be held liable.
If we believe the documentation submitted to be reviewed in support of your instruction, exceeds a fair and reasonable volume, we reserve the right to charge an additional fee on top of our fixed fee agreement, to account for the extra time spent to review. Should this be the case, you will be advised of the additional costs prior to proceeding with your case.
(f) The deposit legislation is complex and easy to get wrong. If you have not 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 any issues with the deposit have been resolved. 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) The Deregulation Act has introduced a number of requirements on landlords in terms of the documentation that needs to be provided to a tenant before a s.21 notice can be served. A checklist is available with the instruction form. For us to be able to serve a s.21 notice on your behalf we will need copies of all the documents and information about when they were served.
(h) Under a Section 8 claim, 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 the tenant has raised and we can look at possible solutions.
(i) In all possession proceedings, the way 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 it is not in the required format, we will recommend that you amend it or we can do it for you but there is a cost which will need to be agreed.
5. At Court
(a) If a court hearing is required at any stage of your matter we generally use an advocacy firm called Ashley Taylors Legal Ltd for representation at court hearings. We find this is the most cost effective way to provide you with representation at court. By instructing us on your matter you agree that we will pass on relevant information about your case to Ashley Taylor Legal Ltd so the advocate is fully prepared for the court hearing. If we are required to use another advocacy firm or barrister for your case then we will let you know.
(b) When a Court hearing is required either the landlord or an agent who was managing the property and collecting the rent must attend. If neither you nor an agent can attend then you must inform us as we will be required to draft a witness statement and serve it on both the court and defendant(s) to set out your position. The cost of this service is set in our list of fixed fees. 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 will email you the date, time and location of the hearing. You must ensure you have all relevant paperwork. You or your agent will meet an Advocate at Court who will present your case to the Judge. You will not be able to call the Advocate – they will call you, usually the day before the hearing.
(c) 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 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.
(d) 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.
(e) 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.
(f) 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 we will need to use the Court’s standard procedure (non-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.
(a) If the tenant fails to vacate by the expiry of the possession order, a bailiff or high court enforcement officer (HCEO) can be appointed to carry out the eviction. An HCEO can only be used if the possession order grants permission to transfer the matter up to the High Court for enforcement purposes. We will always attempt this but Judges need to be persuaded of the merits and do not generally agree.
(b) In most cases 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.
(c) 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.
(d) On rare occasions a bailiff can be late. They usually notify us and we will contact you immediately. We cannot 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 cannot 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 HCEO 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 HCEO to send out a warning letter to the Tenant and then attend for an hour. If it is necessary for the HCEO to attend for more than an hour you will be charged an hourly rate. We ask that you agree this with the HCEO and inform us on the day. The HCEO will then provide us with an invoice after the eviction and we will require you to pay the balance of this invoice.
7. Fees: Step1 and Step2
(a) Our fees are fixed and all-inclusive for straight forward, undefended cases.
(b) Our List of Fixed Fees (which forms part of these terms) takes into account the most common requirements and is laid out plainly so that you are not surprised by events.
(c) Not all events can be accounted for by fixed fees and whenever they are not applicable we will discuss costs and options with you.
(d) At Step 1, if the tenant replies to the notice, we will tell you our fee to respond in that situation.
(e) At Step 2, if the tenant files a defence then much of the work that follows falls outside the fixed fees. We will advise you of our hourly rate (or fixed fee if applicable) and our estimated fee for pursuing the claim to a final hearing. If you want us to continue to act for you, you will need to provide money on account immediately so that we can proceed.
(f) After a solicitor check and review if further communication or correspondence is required then we reserve the right to charge for our time at our solicitor or senior solicitor hourly rate.
(g) Our hourly rates are £130 plus vat for a case worker, £175 plus vat for a solicitor and £200 plus vat for a senior solicitor. We will decide who undertakes the work based on the complexity of the matter.
All payments should be made to Landlord Action Ltd by bank transfer or over the telephone. We do not 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.
9. 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.
(a) 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 in which we may be required to disclose it to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
11. 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. By instructing us you agree to this information being provided to Creditsafe to produce an appropriate anti-fraud check. If we use a different credit reference agency we will let you know.
12. Data Protection and GDPR
(a) 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.
(b) Landlord Action is a fully owned subsidiary of HFIS Plc which acts as a Data Controller for Landlord Action. You can contact us at: 1st Floor, Premiere House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire WD6 1JH, Telephone: 0333 321 9418, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) We process the Personal Data supplied by you in order to provide the legal services in which you instruct us. In order to do this we will pass this information to any relevant supplier such as our anti money laundering search provider, the courts and also high court enforcement office.
(d) Personal data will be stored for a period as required by current legislation. We would draw your attention to your right to request from us access to your personal data as well as your rights to have such data corrected or deleted once it is no longer necessary for the fulfilment of our retainer to provide legal services to you.
(e) We would also draw your attention to your right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office if you feel that we have not carried out our obligations under the relevant Data Protection legislation.
(f) We use a cloud based case management system for all our matters and by instructing us you agree that all matters about your case will be stored in this way.
(g) From time to time we may contact you about other relevant products offered by the Hamilton Fraser Group. You may opt out of these communications at any time. We will request your consent prior to being contacted directly by any associated product.
After completing a case, we are required to retain files for six years. Files will be safely destroyed after seven years. To retrieve your file from storage or to produce a file from our electronic records, the fee is £100.
14. Termination or Variation of Services
(a) You may end your instructions to us in writing at any time if you wish to end the action, the tenant vacates the property or you wish to act for yourself or use another legal representative. We may keep all your documents while fees are owed. We will move your case, at no fee, to a solicitor you choose once all monies owed to us have been paid.
(b) In the event that you wish to dis-instruct us and you wish to act for yourself (in a personal capacity) then you agree to sign a notice pursuant to Part 42.2 CPR notifying the court of your intention. This will not be required if you decide to instruct another solicitor who will undertake to file and serve on the other side a notice of change of solicitor.
(c) If you decide to terminate an action before we start working on your matter you will receive a full refund subject to a £35 administration fee if we have set you and your matter up on our case management software.
(d) If, you decide to terminate any instruction after we have conducted work on your matter, either in terms of contacting you to request further information or documentation, providing a review or drafting either notices or a claim form then no refund other than fees we have received to pay for disbursements which we have not yet been required to pay for will be refunded.
(e) If, after you send us a step 1 or 2 instruction form, you do not supply paperwork and information as requested within 30 days, the file will be closed unless you have made special arrangements with us to put the file on hold.
(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 Step 3 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 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.
(i) Corrections you wish 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.
(j) Any refunds may take up to 28 days to process.
(k) We may decide to stop acting for you, only with good reason (e.g. if you do not 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 cease acting for you.
(l) 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, however if you have a complaint about our service or a bill then we have a complaints policy which is available on our website or we will send you a copy if you ask for it. 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, Tel: 0300 555 0333 or you can email email@example.com to consider the complaint. Normally you need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint.
If you have been referred to Landlord Action by a letting agent or other third party then we may have paid that letting agent or third party a nominal referral fee. Please ask us if you would like to know whether we have paid a referral fee for your matter.
17. Other Matters
(a) If you need clarification on any of these terms of business please email firstname.lastname@example.org
(b) The law governing any dispute arising from these terms of business shall be the laws of England.
17. Our Details
Landlord Action Ltd
1st Floor, Lumiere, Elstree Way, Borehamwood WD6 1JH
0333 321 9415
Registered in England 08067511
SRA Number 605660
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