Landlords are losing thousands as court delays become critical

by Paul Shamplina

12:09 PM, 10th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Landlords are losing thousands as court delays become critical

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Landlords are losing thousands as court delays become critical

Under-resourced county courts are exasperated by the number of possession claims being put forward, resulting in costly delays for landlords.  It has become such a problem in the last three months, that chasing up cases with the courts is now a full-time role for one member of our in-house legal team.landlords

The vast majority of residential possession claims are dealt with in the county courts and enforced by county court bailiffs.  However, Government spending cuts, an ever growing number of possession cases (predicted by us to be up 15% on last year) and the enforcement by some courts that bailiffs must no longer act alone, only in pairs, have combined to create serious delays in the eviction process.

We are forever chasing courts for updates on possession orders, Notice of Issues or bailiff appointments.   By the courts’ own admission, cases are getting overlooked, administrative errors are being made and there are simply not enough bailiffs to support the number of cases, leading to long delays.

This is having serious implications for landlords who are not only losing thousands of pounds in unpaid rent but racking up more legal costs the longer a case goes on.  Some landlords, who are unable to meet mortgage payments as a result, even face possible repossession, in addition to the added risk of their property being left uninhabitable by current tenants, where communication has broken down.

One Landlord, Mr Waller, has had severe delays with his case as a result of the courts losing his claim, twice.  We finally obtained a hearing date, which took place on 24th November. Mr Waller said: “Our eviction case has been delayed for almost a year due to severe maladministration by the courts; files were repeatedly lost and the inefficiency we and Landlord Action encountered was astounding. This has been a deeply frustrating experience for us as landlords, but an even more harrowing one for our tenant who desperately wants to be rehoused by the council and needs a court order. We’re in an impossible catch 22 situation, which only the courts can resolve. The negligence and insouciance of certain individuals are quite literally destroying people’s lives.”

Another common frustration is when a possession order has been granted and a bailiff appointment confirmed, but the tenant makes a last minute application because they have nowhere else to go. The standard procedure is that a hearing has to be considered by a judge. We recently learnt that many of these applications don’t even reach a judge, who would have the authority to strike out an application based on the information already provided. Instead, the knee jerk reaction of court staff is to set down a hearing date, in which everyone is dragged to court, only for a judge to pass that the application has no merit.”

This flaw in the system can delay the whole process by as much as 2-3 months.  We are currently acting on a case where this has happened, and rather than the landlord having his property back by the end of November, there is now a hearing in  January 2015.

Contact Landlord Action

Specialists in tenant eviction and debt collection. Regulated by The Law Society.


Comments

David Asker

9:11 AM, 11th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Paul,

A good article which only goes to highlight why the Government needs to change the rules regarding the use of High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) in this area.

My company has seen a meteoric increase in instructions in this area due to the horrendous delays by the County Court Bailiffs.

Whilst we have seen significant success with County Courts granting the Section 42 transfer required for an HCEO to undertake such work, there are still some courts that are proving problematic.

Added to this are issues with individual Courts not recognising the new single County Court rule where they can now seal an order that was originally made by another regional Court.

All very frustrating for us and the landlord that has already lost huge sums of money.

We at The Sheriffs Office would like to work with Property 118 and yourselves to push for a change in law that will allow landlords a choice of enforcement provider, finally giving them the access to justice that we hear Government so often talk about.

Regards

David

Mark Alexander

9:38 AM, 11th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "11/12/2014 - 09:11":

Hi David

We are definitely up for this, are you Paul?
.

Mark Crampton Smith

10:31 AM, 11th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Here in Oxford, the primary cause of court action to secure possession is a product of advice from the City Council for Tenants to stay put at the determination of a section 21 notice. All of our tenancy agreements have a clause making tenants responsible for legal costs (and any losses) for any failure to comply with the agreement.......... Is there a solicitor out there who would like to represent a tenant being evicted in a claim against the City for advice that has caused them loss? Or am I being naïve?


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