We are featuring a number of contributions from legal expert Hollie Wright on some of the most common legal issues that landlords have to be aware of when it comes to eviction. This blog is the third and final part of our three-part series on serving eviction notices.
We previously looked at issues surrounding the court process for obtaining a possession order, and common pitfalls that can lead to delays and the costs of taking court action. This time we look at court proceedings, and what landlords and property owners can do to minimise the costs of going to court.
How can a tenant respond to or delay a possession claim?
The tenant may defend a claim for possession. This may be on the basis that they need more time to vacate or on more serious grounds, such as alleging disrepair to the property.
If a claim is defended the court will usually list a hearing to listen to what both parties have to say and decide if further directions are needed to give the court more information about the dispute before it can make a decision.
It is a good idea to keep a record of all communication with your tenant, and deal with any complaints or repairs in writing so that in the event of a dispute, you can provide clear records.
What are the costs of starting court proceedings?
The costs of the Accelerated and Standard Procedure will depend on whether you deal with the matter yourself (as a litigant in person) or whether you instruct a solicitor to represent you. Some solicitors will offer a fixed fee service to serve notices or pursue possession claims.
Either way you will also need to pay a court fee to issue your claim (currently £355) and a further court fee if you need the County Court Bailiff to evict your tenants (currently £121).
What advice can you offer to landlords with troublesome tenants?
Ensure that you are compliant with current legislation from the very start of the tenancy. In the event that things go wrong and you need to seek possession, being compliant with the legislation will save you a lot of time and money.
One of the most common reasons landlords seek possession is because a tenant delays or stops paying rent. Not being compliant with legislation can cost landlords weeks and months in delays (and lost rent).
What can a landlord do to minimise the costs of eviction?
Make sure that you know your options and take steps to obtain possession as quickly as possible. Being compliant with current legislation is essential. If you start a claim and it comes to light that you have failed to comply with a requirement, your claim may be struck out and you will have to start all over again.
If you are unsure you should seek specialist legal advice. A good solicitor will be able to guide you through the process as quickly as possible and avoid the common pitfalls of possession claims.
Written by Hollie Wright
Real Estate Dispute Resolution
Howard Kennedy LLP