Updated: Oct 29
Evictions are a cost that landlords could really do without but this month an article caught our eye in the UK’s Daily Telegraph which we felt was worthy of a blog post. It was headlined as “Fresh Woe for Landlords Facing 100K Bills to Evict Problem Tenants” (see http://bit.ly/2L6RVab). As Shergroup offers a range of property solutions, one of which is an enforcement service to evict tenants, (whether they are a problem or not), we were interested in the alleged cost in this statement.
As our blog readers will know, our CEO, Claire Sandbrook, is a big Daily Telegraph reader. She finds the content to be reliable and evidence based – which is in turn ideal material for a blog. But she found the headline a little startling and dare we say, inflammatory.
There is no doubt that evicting a tenant incurs a significant cost to a landlord, but the squeezing of the eviction procedure is not going to change that. The costs in place in the current system have always been there and will continue to be one of the risks that landlords in all their various guises of complexity have to manage as an overhead of their business model.
We have blogged and commented extensively on one cost that time and time again the Government and Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service have failed to deal with – and that is the delay in getting an eviction date. Worse still, the eviction process, even after the Court has made its order, is unnecessarily complicated. The current system just adds delay and therefore more cost to this already difficult and controversial area of the law.
No one likes eviction – we certainly don’t relish it – and we have to do it. What we have always wanted is a smooth transition from the county court where the possession orders are made, to the High Court where we have the authority to enforce a High Court Writ of Possession. Landlords should be able to choose their eviction process. Some may have social and political considerations for delaying eviction. We understand that. But private landlords, the people the Government is now putting under added pressure by changing the law on Section 21 evictions, may well need the rental income to fund the mortgage for the rented property.
Some may say – well that’s just tough. Really? If a court grants a landlord a possession order, isn’t it right that the Order should be capable of enforcement as soon as the law allows? Judges may want to put in safeguards or put the brakes on an eviction, but any delay should be transparent. Maladministration certainly shouldn’t be a reason for a claimant not to be able to enforce.
Landlords who issue their claim for possession and evict in accordance with the law are doing the right thing. They are a customer of HMCTS and as such they are entitled to a timely and efficient service which includes the enforcement of any eventual order. They should not in our view be put under further pressure because the legal system can’t make up its mind about how to enforce the eventual order.
The fact is the county court system is clogged up with too many evictions, and there are in-built delays in issuing a Form N293A to certify the possession order has been made. Getting the right form of N293A from certain courts can add weeks to the time it takes to instruct a High Court Enforcement office to manage the eviction. Weeks of delay lead to lost rent – one of the costs mentioned in the Daily Telegraph article. This is a cost that could be eliminated from the cost of eviction, if policy makers and judges would only examine the entire process including the delays in courts up and down the country to give an eviction date.
Our own solution to the issue of cost of evicting tenants is to offer a complete one stop shop – from issuing the relevant Notice all the way through to evicting the tenant – with fixed pricing at the various stages and complete transparency. This offers landlords some certainty and we think reduces the delay of getting our enforcement teams in at the end of the process to carry out the eviction. Yes, it does cost more than a Warrant of Possession, but our eviction timetable is 7-10 from date of instruction, which in turn saves weeks of unpaid rent as a claimant waits for an eviction date. This is the real benefit of the High Court system.