Tenant Eviction England & Wales: The Disaster is in the Details

Tenant eviction is a tricky process.  The law takes tenant’s security very seriously.  Evicting a tenant can seem like climbing a mountain.  There are a number of paths that you can take to the top of the mountain to evict your tenant. The best route to eviction depends on all the circumstances.  But be aware that putting a toe out of line can send you tumbling to the bottom of the mountain and having to start again.  This means additional expense and delay and there’s quite enough of that in the system already.

This is a cautionary tale to illustrate how easy it is to waste significant sums of money, quite unnecessarily.  It’s based on an actual case that we dealt with.  It wasn’t actually in South Wales; although our firm is based here, we conduct the eviction process for landlords anywhere in England and Wales using our own legally qualified advocates for court.  So it could have been London, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol or just about anywhere.  We’ll hide the details to save the guilty from embarrassment.

The story involves a house in which there were a number of separate tenants, each with exclusive use of a room together with use of the common parts.  Each tenant had a separate assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

One tenant was a nuisance.  There were late night parties, aggressive friends, lots of mess, the front door frequently left open all night, and there was a strange herbal smell around the house that had nothing to do with air freshener.

Because of the behaviour of this individual, tenants were leaving and challenging their obligation to pay rent for the rest of the agreement and in fact threatening to claim back the rent already paid. Those tenants that stayed were living in fear.  Naturally our landlord needed the tenant evicted absolutely as soon as possible.  We mentioned to our landlord client that the legislators had devised a ground for eviction for just such a circumstance, ground 14, which allowed the process to be speeded up.  We awaited our instructions to serve a notice and proceed to eviction.  We were surprised to hear nothing further.

Two weeks later, our landlord informed us that he had served the notice and given the tenant 14 days to leave; would we now start the court process.  Having carried out tenant evictions for landlords all over England and Wales, for example  London, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle and Plymouth (sorry to go on about this but we really want you to know that we can help with tenant evictions anywhere in England and Wales) we know that you landlords are all ever vigilant to save a shilling.  However, in this case, as often happens in tenant eviction, it was a false economy.  Had we been instructed to issue the notice (for a miserly fixed fee as set out on our website) we would have known that you don’t need to wait 14 days to issue proceedings when you rely on ground 14.  The tenant would have been evicted two weeks earlier and the £65 we would have charged to serve the notice would have been repaid many times over.

We know how difficult it is get it right.  Even solicitors have their moments.  A case comes to mind where a solicitor made a typo in the street name of the address of the property from which the tenant was to be evicted. It was only one letter of the street name, the post code and everything else was correct.  It cost a hearing fee, a process server’s fee, an additional advocate fee for the additional hearing, and several weeks loss of rent.  The point is though, that the solicitor covered all the losses in this case because they had made the typo.

The law is complex, the potential losses large and the fixed fees modest.  The mountain track to tenant eviction is strewn with bear traps.  Why would you take the risk without a guide?

Did I mention that we can deal with you tenant eviction in Liverpool, London, Oxford, Bristol, Newport, Swansea, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford or pretty much anywhere in England and Wales?

 

This blog is written for general interest only.  The content of this blog is not legal advice and no lawyer-client relationship is created between any person whatsoever by the use of this blog and its contents.  Please do not rely in any way on the contents of this blog.  Your should consult us professionally or consult your own lawyer for legal advice.

Landlord & Tenant: Eviction and Deposits

A Section 21 Notice (and consequently, the Eviction) are Suspended Until Both the Deposit is Protected and the Prescribed Information Provided to the Tenant.

It has been mandatory for the landlord to protect the tenant’s deposit with one of three designated organisations  and provide “Prescribed Information”  to the tenant about how this has been done,  since 06.04.12.  If  the necessary steps are not completed, the court must order the return of the deposit together with a payment (under the old legislation) equivalent to 3 times the deposit.  The notice and subsequently, the tenant’s eviction cannot go ahead until the issues are dealt with.

The legislation was not well drafted and ran into problems with the courts.  Principally, landlords became able to circumvent the penalties and proceed with evicting the tenant simply by protecting the deposit at any time before the matter came to court.  Some amendments were made which came into force on 06.04.12.

It is now mandatory for the landlord to protect the tenants deposit and provide the prescribed information within 30 days of receiving the deposit.  The tenant is now able to make a claim under the legislation, for the return of the deposit and the penalty  of between 1 and 3 times the deposit, before or after the tenancy has ended.  A section 21 notice (and therefore any eviction) is suspended until the landlord returns the deposit, either in full or with deductions that have been agreed with the tenant.

A question came before the Court of Appeal recently.  What if the deposit has been properly protected by the landlord but the prescribed information not provided to the tenant?  The case was Ayannuga v Swindells  (2012) CA (Civ) 6  November 2012.  The landlord wanted to evict the tenant and brought a claim for possession,  the tenant entered a defence and counter claim based on the landlord’s failure to provide the prescribed information.  It was common ground that the deposit had actually been protected and that the Prescribed Information requirements had not been complied with.

Protection Without Information is Not Enough

The landlord argued that it was an inconsequential technicality not to fully provide the tenant with prescribed information and that the information was freely available from the scheme with which the deposit had been protected, and on the internet;  a minor technical oversight should not matter.  The lower court agreed with the landlord.  However, the Court of Appeal found that the information was of real importance as it told tenants how to dispute deductions without recourse to the courts.  The Prescribed Information must be supplied.  The landlord had to return the deposit and pay the tenant 3 times the deposit in addition.  Furthermore, the landlord had endured considerable delays in his efforts to evict the tenant.

It is fairly onerous to comply with the Prescribed Information requirements, however, it is hugely more onerous and potentially very expensive to have to deal with a defence and counter claim when trying to get possession of your property or even a claim for the deposit and penalty up to six years after the end of the tenancy.

 

This blog is for written for general interest only. The content of this blog is not legal advice and no lawyer-client relationship is created between any persons whatsoever by the use of this blog or its contents. Please do not rely in any way on the contents of this blog. You should consult your own lawyer for legal advice.