Can I recover legal costs from repossession proceedings?

by Readers Question

15:47 PM, 2nd August 2016
About 2 years ago

Can I recover legal costs from repossession proceedings?

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Can I recover legal costs from repossession proceedings?

I am renovating a HMO and had to give notice to the remaining tenants. One refused to leave when the S21 expired. Because he was in discussions with the council about rehousing him, I held back from issuing repossession proceedings. However, after several weeks with no progress, I paid £1,250 to a well-known firm to commence proceedings.legal costs

The tenant eventually moved out during the week he received the letter from the court setting the hearing date. He has left the room in an awful state, so I should be able to claim his deposit and I am expecting about £100 to be refunded from the legal firm. However, this leaves me around £1,150 out of pocket, not to mention the losses caused by the delay in gaining access to his room.

I am thinking about pursuing him through moneyclaimonline for the legal costs as these were incurred solely because he refused to vacate. I was planning to do this anyway, once I secured the possession order but now he has left before the court hearing and I wonder if the county court would consider my legal costs to be a valid claim.

Anybody had a similar experience?

All advice would be welcome.

Steve



Comments

Gary Dully

0:50 AM, 3rd August 2016
About 2 years ago

Hello Steve,

Firstly, has the tenancy actually legally ended?
Were keys returned, was written notice from the tenant obtained, has he signed a written tenancy surrender document?

If not, consider this scenario, it has happened to me before.

The tenant is currently living on his various friends sofa beds, out staying his welcome.
He can't get a reference from his current landlord (you) and his residential payment history is poo.

He is likely to run out of money fairly soon.

You rent out the property again and he sees an opportunity on the Internet with a no-win, no fee solicitor that says that he can have compensation for being illegally evicted. ( these adverts are now appearing all over the place)

He makes an enquiry and the solicitor asks did you sign a surrender, give notice or simply abandon the property?

No he says, the landlord issued a court summons and so I just left.

Did the landlord go through with the court case?

No, he didn't, he just rented it out again.

Oh dear oh dear the solicitor says, he now owes you a lot of compensation, because your tenancy agreement was never 'legally' ended.

But I left the keys......for a gas or maintenance inspection, interrupts the solicitor, and the landlord wouldn't grant you access afterwards, leaving you to fend for yourself, without due process and he binned all your possessions.

He is therefore fu*ked!

Under the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977, A tenancy agreement cannot be ended by anybody except a County Court Judge or by 4 weeks written notice from a tenant.

If you deny him that process you are committing. A Criminal Offence.

So if you don't have any of the above documentation, I would continue with the court case and issue case for all losses via MCOL at a later date, if you are using the Section 21 route.

If you do have that documentation then issue a summons for your losses via MCOL.

Romain Garcin

8:48 AM, 3rd August 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "03/08/2016 - 00:50":

"the landlord issued a court summons and so I just left."

If the tenant admits this then I would think that the landlord is in the clear as that demonstrates that the tenant offered to surrender the tenancy, and the tenancy ended when the landlord accepted it.

The key issue is that there is often no evidence of this.

Charles King - Barrister-At-Law

13:47 PM, 3rd August 2016
About 2 years ago

So what happened to the hearing date? Do you mean a hearing date or a possession date? You could go along to the hearing and ask for your costs there. Although the court will always try to limit your costs to fixed costs you can argue the point with the judge, as costs are always at the discretion of the court. You would have to find the relevant part of CPR Part 44, which is not a great read. Well drafted tenancy agreeements should contain a provision for the tenant to pay your legal costs of pursuing possession proceedings, which you can then seek to enforce in the possession claim. It should be clearly spelt out in the claim that you are seeking to pursue your contractual costs by reference to the contract and cases such as Church Commissioners v Ibrahim. Sometimes courts will order thousands of pounds in costs, but this is probably exceptional, and of course representation always helps! Other than this Gary makes some sensible points as ever.

Charles King - Barrister-At-Law

13:51 PM, 3rd August 2016
About 2 years ago

Oh, and I should have said, the most important point is: getting a court order saying that a former tenant must pay you £1,150 costs, and actually getting £1,150 from a former tenant with no money who you cant trace - these are 2 very different things


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