Eviction | Re-balancing the Rights of the Parties Involved
According to today’s Telegraph newspaper, no-fault evictions are on their way out – see http://bit.ly/2ImdBAy. As we deal with a small amount of evictions every month – usually in London – our experience is that the basis for the eviction is usually non-payment of rent. When this happens, the landlord relies on the current legislation to enable a claim to be issued for possession leading to a possession order being made. Once the possession order is made it can take up months to obtain a date for an eviction from the local county court.
Landlords are learning that they can shorten the time to get back possession if they can persuade a District Judge in the county court to allow the possession order to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement. In asking for such an order the landlord will have to be ready to provide reasons, including financial insight on the cost of delaying eviction.
The tenor of the Telegraph’s article suggests that landlords are getting evictions too soon, or on the wrong basis. This cannot be right. Landlords have to obtain a possession order to even contemplate an eviction happening and we are confident most of the landlords we encounter would have preferred not to take this drastic step. All a landlord usually wants is the rent paid on time. Private landlords may well be financing their property from funding which needs to be paid, and they use the rent to discharge their own obligations. If that chain of funds is broken by a tenant refusing or unable to pay it creates a problem that the landlord must deal with.
We are also not sure that a picture of Mrs May standing in front of an EU flag looking stern is quite the right picture for this article, which is surprising as the Telegraph is usually good at capturing the spirt of a situation with its imagery.
Instead this story paints a picture of a Government who is pushing the blame of eviction on to the private rental market when in fact it is legislation which is lacking, and which is causing landlords to apply for possession orders rather too quickly for the Government’s liking. The fact that a landlord can then seek to transfer to the High Court for enforcement is also probably not what the Government wants to see because it creates issues re-housing evicted tenants. We suspect the Government through its local authority framework is under pressure to put the brakes on having to find homes for the people who are made homeless by the eviction process.
Over the years our CEO, Claire Sandbrook, has argued for “joined up thinking” on the entire topic of possession orders leading to Writs of Possession. As it is the entire issue of aligning possession orders is finally in front of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee and a consultation paper has been issued – see http://bit.ly/2Pdfccj. We liked what Lord Justice Coulson had to say in his foreword to the consultation paper which reads “The CPRC recognises that there is a balance to be struck; for example, on the one hand there may be a landlord who is owed several month’s unpaid rent and who may also be in debt as a result of the rent arrears, and on the other hand tenants or other occupiers who ought to know if and when they are to be evicted to enable them to make other provision or make their own representations to the court. All parties should be treated fairly and with respect.”
Shergroup will be responding to the consultation paper and we encourage you to do the same if you want to share your experience of the court system of eviction and the impact it has had on your life from your particular vantage point. For us, we think it ridiculous that the county court bailiff system attempts to handle thousands of evictions each year, when the High Court system of enforcement could be utilized to take some, or all, of the load. Whatever the outcome of the claim for possession, an order will still need to be enforced and we believe the current consultation is long overdue in addressing the confusion caused by a two-tier eviction system.