Eviction process – Is this the new reality?

by Readers Question

10:06 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Eviction process – Is this the new reality?

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Eviction process – Is this the new reality?

How can landlords deal with anti-social behaviour by tenants?

Private landlords have very limited power to take action against tenants in such matters, and our main form of deterrent (or eventual remedy) was the threat of eviction. Tenants know that this is can be a long process, so it is unlikely to change their behaviours, particularly if their behaviours are due to alcohol dependency and/or mental health issues.

Reality Check:
The Government (as part of it’s Covid 19 response) has now limited still further, the ability of the landlord to evict, by extending the Notice periods, and closing the courts and bailiff services, thus creating a situation where tenants are pretty much able to do whatever they like and landlords are completely powerless to do anything about it. This is well publicised across social media, so all tenants know this. The Notice periods are now 3 months. The courts will have a massive 3+ month backlog of cases to deal when they eventually re-open.

Likely timeline?:
In the unlikely event that the courts all re-open on 1st July (with a full complement of staff), they will have a 3+ month backlog of cases before they can start hearing new cases, so:
– if I serve 3 month eviction Notice this week (lets say 20/4/20 as the date of service),
– it would be 21st July 2020 before I could even apply to the court for a possession hearing,
– court (in my area) usually take 6 weeks for a hearing date, so add on the 3 month backlog, that means the hearing would be listed for early December,
– if court grants the possession on the first court hearing date (so no adjournments) the court gives the resident 14 – 28 days to move out, so that takes us into early January 2021,
– if the resident does not move out on the ordered date, I then have to apply to the court for bailiffs to physically evict them, this usually takes 6 – 8 weeks, so adding on the 3 month backlog this would give an actual eviction date of sometime in May 2021.

This 13 month eviction process appears to be the reality that all private landlords are facing, AND assuming the Covid restrictions are actually lifted on 1st July, and everything starts working at the same rate, and in the same way as previously.

If the restrictions continue beyond 1st July (as they may), and some processes will change (e.g. introduction of a pre-action protocol), and things will take longer to get back up and running at a pre-Covid rate, then the 13 month timescale mentioned above is perhaps over optimistic.

Based on the issues mentioned above, apart from us sending rent reminder/anti-social behaviour letters and 3 month eviction Notices to the residents, I don’t know of anything else we can legally do to resolve issues such as non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour.

In the case of anti-social behaviour, it would be no good trying to explain to suffering neighbours the 13+ month likely time period before we could evict, as they may then decide to take action of their own to get the residents to move out by force, and I certainly don’t want any residents being threatened or attacked, or the property being targeted for damage.

In the case of tenants choosing to not pay the rent, while this would leave them in debt, if they have no assets, no employment, and no rent guarantor (with assets), then there is no realistic way to get the rent debt paid (unless it can be done via Universal Credit, but that generally requires tenant co-operation, and can only be done during the tenancy not after eviction or tenant moved elsewhere). This is likely to put many landlords out of business.

Am I missing something?

Are there any legal ways to deal with the anti-social behaviour and non-payment of rent issues mentioned above?

I am open to reasonable suggestions if you can think of any?

Robert



Comments

dismayed landlord

10:42 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

nope that's it. Bit optimistic on the 13 month timescale. Last evection I did took 16 months because the judge bent over backwards for the tenant. The judge in the end directed me to make it only a section 21 (I had served both 8 and 21) so that she and her 3 kids would be re housed by the council. The council then left it until the bailiffs were on their way before moving her. No forwarding address disclosed by Council and the rent arrears of £2500 left for me to sort out. Plus the house was left virtually uninhabitable. That was over 2 years ago and convinced me to sell up asap. I just have not done it quick enough.

Steve Masters

10:47 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

I'm sorry but I don't have an answer to your question other than to "send the proverbial boys round" which, is not at all legal. But I can see that happening in some instances which would be an unintended consequence of the suspension of the courts.

Ingrid Bacsa

10:53 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

There was supposed to be a speedy eviction process for anti-social tenants.

If the property is a "licenced" HMO the landlord would be fined by the Council for his tenants' anti-social behaviour. Presumably that works because the neighbours would have had to complain to the Council, who then would get on the Landlord's back to take responsibility for his anti-social tenants' behaviour.

After all he is the one that had to buy the licence (around £300) and he gets all the rent money!!! He is held fully responsible whilst the government maintains full control over his business.

If the property is not licenced the situation is tge same, only he has not had to fork out for a licence. BUT HOW CAN A LANDLORD SWIFTLY RESOLVE A NEIGHBOUR'S COMPLAINT THAT HE HAS RECEIVED THROUGH THE COUNCIL. Are there special Council officials appointed to support the neighbour? Can the police enforce a speedy eviction? Do they fine the poor landlord as well? The system is just destructive to landlords and Covid19 has made it far worse for us. We badly need a governing power behind us. 😪

Martin Green

10:56 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

I had a possession order court date of 21st April, I've just received a letter stating its adjourned to be listed on a date to be fixed. The parties are urged to seek settlement where possible, and to notify the court if settlement is reached. There isn't any chance of settlement as tenant already in 7 months rent arrears. Universal Credit are now paying direct to me (60% of rent) as of last month but this took approx. 4 month to organise. There are some organisations (connect support and Aspire in Oxfordshire) that can help, but have yet to receive any payment. I have another HMO tenant also in rent arrears of 3 months a section 8 has been issued before Covid19, I haven't issued a possession order yet, but NLA are advising to, to at least be in the system.

Antoni

11:01 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Hello. I'm a resident landlord and I have a (very) unwanted lodger. She should have left last 2nd of April (I gave her 4 weeks notice on 2nd of March) but still here making my life hell with her intimidating and vindictive behavior. I was wondering from reading your article Robert if the same eviction policy applies to lodgers (excluded occupiers) compared to tenants? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciate it.

Chris @ Possession Friend

11:19 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Antoni at 15/04/2020 - 11:01
Can I suggest you take up our offer of Free Advice, in article on here last week.

Monty Bodkin

11:30 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Not wanting to sound glib, but don't take them on in the first place.
Only take on tenants as near perfect as they possibly can be.
Accept longer voids and increase rents to compensate.

Antoni

11:46 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Possession Friend at 15/04/2020 - 11:19
I just checked that, thank you.

Antoni

11:47 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 15/04/2020 - 11:30
Totally agree. Accidents happen!

Hardworking Landlord

11:48 AM, 15th April 2020
About 4 months ago

I have a similar sad situation at the moment with a non-paying tenant and arrears of 4 months so far. The government has just pulled the rug from under us, and there appears to be little lobbying going on to change things.

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