Posts with tag: Eviction

Scotland landlords trying to sell up after evicting tenants are struggling

Published On: June 1, 2022 at 10:17 am

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Nearly one third of private landlords who evicted tenants in Scotland to sell the property failed to sell the home more than a year later, Generation Rent has found.

It also found 9% of cases where tenants are being evicted on the grounds of sale saw the home simply sold to another landlord who has re-let the property.

As governments in Scotland and England consider reforms to private tenancies, Generation Rent is calling for extra protections when landlords wish to sell so that tenants do not face expensive and disruptive moves.

It points out that private landlords in Scotland can only end a tenancy that started since 2017 if they have one of 18 legitimate grounds, including an intention to sell the property (ground 1).

If a tenant served with an eviction notice does not leave after the notice period ends, the landlord must apply to the Tribunal to seek possession.

Generation Rent looked at 125 cases between 2018 and 2021 where the landlord was seeking possession on ground 1, and checked whether each property had been sold and was still on the landlord register.

Out of 74 cases where the landlord was awarded possession between 2018 and 2020 based on their intention to sell, 21 (28%) had still not been sold.

Ten of those (14% of the total) were still on the landlord register, suggesting they had simply been re-let.

A further seven homes had been sold but were registered to a different landlord (9%), indicating that the original tenant could have stayed put and the eviction was unnecessary.

53% had both been sold and left the private rented sector, in line with the landlord’s original intention. (9% had been sold but were still on the landlord register in the original landlord’s name.)

For the 33 ground 1 cases heard in 2021, two thirds of homes remained unsold by early 2022.

To prove their intention to sell, landlords must demonstrate that they have appointed a solicitor, estate agent or other professional to prepare the property for listing. Generation Rent says this makes it difficult for tenants to challenge a ground 1 eviction and many will move out before their notice period ends.

Tenants can apply for a Wrongful Termination Order, which, if successful, results in compensation, but none of the cases examined by Generation Rent resulted in one.

Generation Rent is calling for extra protections for tenants who face eviction for reasons beyond their control, including a requirement for landlords who wish to sell to advertise the property with a sitting tenant before seeking eviction, relocation payments to ease the burden of tenants who face eviction, and periods where the landlord cannot evict tenants who have not broken the terms of their tenancy agreement.

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “These cases represent a minority of evictions in Scotland but the number of properties that are re-let instead of being sold, or are bought by another landlord, indicate that tenants are still getting a raw deal.

“Despite the 2017 reforms, this research suggests it is too easy for landlords to claim a ground for sale yet seemingly abandon plans to sell them. That’s why we’d like to see incentives for landlords to keep the tenant in place.

“The consequences of ground 1 evictions are devastating for the tenant. Unwanted moves cause stress, loss of savings and risk of debt, and disruption to education and work. “Landlords will always need the option to sell, but governments in both Scotland and England must ensure that private renters have the best shot at a long-term home.”

Rise in number of landlords seeking to recover rental debt

Published On: May 3, 2022 at 8:56 am

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Eviction specialists Landlord Action has had a sharp rise in landlords requesting to use their debt recovery service.

Instructions for the last year, April 2021 to March 2022, were up 180% compared to the pre-pandemic year, April 2019 to March 2020.

According to Landlord Action, the restrictions placed on landlords over the last two years have led to the value of rent arrears becoming higher than ever.

Responding to the English Housing Survey 2020-21, 4% of private renters reported being in rent arrears.  With an estimated 13 million people in the UK renting from a private landlord, this suggests approximately 52,000 were in rent arrears between 2020 and 2021.

Landlord Philip Robinson had tenants who stopped paying rent in October 2019, four months prior to the national lockdown. They remained in situ throughout the pandemic but would not communicate with him or the letting agent. They finally left without surrendering the keys or informing him that they had vacated. Having caused significant damage, Philip decided to pursue the tenants’ arrears through Landlord Action’s debt recovery service. In October 2021, the team recovered £14,950.

Philip Robinson comments: “I have always been very fair and taken my tenants’ personal circumstances into account, but this tenant ran a company which had £250,000 in the bank. They abused the restrictions put in place by the Government which were designed to help those in need.

“The tenants purchased a property, renovated it and managed to pay the mortgage, all whilst living in my property for free. If more tenants like this knew there would be repercussions, such as a County Court Judgement, I believe they would cooperate much earlier in the proceedings.”

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, comments: “We currently have hundreds of live debt recovery cases, ranging from a few thousand pounds right up to one where the arrears have reached £200,000. Admittedly, this is an extremely rare case, but what many of our cases have in common is that the tenants had the means to pay. For example, one case is against a practising doctor who owes £42,000.

“If there are substantial arrears and the tenant is employed with a steady level of income, therefore has the means to pay, but has simply stopped paying, it is worth pursuing the money that is legally and rightfully owed to the landlord.

“There are many ways to enforce an outstanding debt such as appointing a High Court Bailiff who can seize goods, apply for a Third-Party Debt Order (freeze bank account) or apply for an order for an attachment of earnings. If a landlord wishes to seize goods on the eviction date this can only be done if a High Court Bailiff is appointed.”

Renters Get Public’s Support for Protection from Eviction

Published On: August 24, 2018 at 9:58 am

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Public support is widespread, when it comes to the issue of protection for renters from unfair eviction, results from a survation poll reveal.

With a majority of Conservative voters supporting limits on rent increases, and compensation for tenants evicted through no fault of their own. These results put pressure on the Government to improve its proposed reforms for three-year tenancies, which are out for consultation until this Sunday, 26th August.

The poll comes as renters deliver a petition to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire on Thursday which demands an end to landlords’ right to evict tenants with no reason, and is signed by 50,000 people.

59% of respondents to the poll were in mutual agreement that tenants who pay their rent arrears and maintain their home to a suitable standard should have to pay an automatic right to stay in it, while 61% believed that landlords who choose to evict tenants in order to sell their property or move back in should pay the tenant’s moving costs. Just 21% of respondents thought landlords should be able to evict a tenant without providing a reason for the eviction.

Support from controlling rents was even higher, with almost 72% of respondents agreed that landlords should not be allowed to raise rents by more than rate of inflation.

Furthermore, there was also strong support shown for the belief that landlords should be subject to the same levels of regulation as other business 79% and that tenants should expect the same level of consumer protection from their housing as they would from other services, such as their gas or electricity providers (81%).

If a utility company goes out of business, their customers are allocated a new supplier by Ofgem. Currently, if a landlord sells up, the tenant has to find a new place to live themselves – at their own expense.

The poll uncovers that these measures would be popular across the whole population and political spectrum. A majority of owner occupiers would support tenants receiving compensation if they were evicted by a landlord selling up or moving back in.

Older voters were far more in favour of rent caps than younger voters, with 79% of over 55s agreeing with the statement compared with 68% of 18-34-year olds.

Of the people who voted Conservative last year, support for limits on rent increase is, at 72%, of an equal level to the wider population, and 56% believe that blameless tenants should have their moving costs paid if they are evicted. 64% disagreed that landlords should be able to evict without reason. This statistic was more than the wider population. The law that allows this, Section 21, of the 1988 Housing Act, was introduced by the Thatcher Government.

Generation Rent is campaigning to strengthen the protections for tenants by abolishing Section 21, thus ending the ability to evict without grounds. The campaign proposes that rent rises should be restricted to wage growth and that landlords evicting to sell or move back in pay the equivalent of three months’ rent to support the tenant in finding a new home. This would also incentivise sales with sitting tenants.

The End Unfair Evictions coalition will be handing in a petition to the Housing Secretary at the Ministry of Housing today at 1pm, and is urging renters to respond to the government’s consultation by the end of the week. The End Unfair Evictions coalition is Generation Rent, ACORN, London Renters Union and New Economics Foundation.

Director of Generation Rent, Dan Wilson Craw, commented:
“Private renters are well aware of how precarious their tenancies are. Few have any certainty that their home will be theirs in a year’s time, and if their landlord serves an eviction notice, they will face months of upheaval and thousands of pounds in costs to find a new place to live.

“It is heartening to see that the wider public recognises that we all need a stable home. The government has timid proposals for three-year tenancies, but there is clear support across the political spectrum for indefinite tenancies with real protections for renters. This should give ministers the confidence to go much further.”

Calls for Unregulated Eviction Firms to Join a Redress Scheme

Published On: July 25, 2017 at 9:31 am

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Landlords simply cannot afford to restart the eviction process after an unregulated firm has failed to offer the correct service, insists Landlord Action, which is calling for unregulated eviction firms to join a redress scheme.

Over the years, Landlord Action has been instructed to take on several cases following the malpractice of another firm. With repossessions for landlords now taking an average of 43 weeks, Landlord Action insists that landlords simply cannot afford to restart the process due to compliance errors.

Calls for Unregulated Eviction Firms to Join a Redress Scheme

Calls for Unregulated Eviction Firms to Join a Redress Scheme

It is calling for unregulated eviction firms to become part of a redress scheme to help clean up the industry and protect landlords and letting agents from further unnecessary expense.

As the private rental sector has grown, so too has the eviction industry and, with it, the number of unregulated eviction firms cutting corners and not using legally qualified personnel to facilitate the process correctly.

One landlord, Ms. Romeena Hadwal – who, like many people, turned to the internet for advice when her tenant fell into rent arrears – found herself battling the very company she had instructed to help her.

She explains: “I found a company on the internet which was offering what appeared to be a very good deal – £99 to get started and a money-back guarantee. I spoke to them on the phone; they seemed perfectly legitimate, explained the process to me, took payment and filed notice, which my tenant received.

“However, problems started when it transpired they had put the wrong address on the court forms, which delayed the entire process. Under the impression it had been resolved, the case went to court, but, four weeks after the hearing, I was told I was unable to apply for the N325 Request for Warrant of Possession because the address was still incorrect. I wish I had gone to a regulated law firm.”

Communication between Hadwal and her eviction company became increasing hostile, until the firm stopped responding altogether. Six months on, she was still no closer to getting her property back and had paid a total of £855 to a company that had not helped her to evict her tenant.

Commenting on unregulated eviction firms, David Smith, a Partner and Head of Operations at Anthony Gold Solicitors, says: “Unregulated providers of advice to landlords look like a good deal at first blush. However, they can provide advice which is misleading or plain wrong, and the lack of insurance or a complaints process leaves landlords with nowhere to turn when things go wrong. A robust complaints mechanism is a key component of giving landlords confidence in the reliability of such services.”

With nowhere to take her complaint and mounting rent arrears, Hadwal was desperate to get her property back. Her only choice was to instruct another eviction company. She contacted Landlord Action, which took the case over, and Hadwal now has an eviction date set for 1st August 2017.

Paul Shamplina, the Founder of Landlord Action, comments on the success of his firm: “When we set up as the UK’s original three-step fixed-fee eviction company, the aim was to provide simplicity to a previously costly and complicated burden for landlords and letting agents. As other operators have entered the marketplace, we’ve found ourselves working with more and more landlords who have not only been let down by their tenant or letting agent, but subsequently their unregulated eviction firm.

“To improve standards and provide a better service, we acquired status as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) in landlord and tenant law, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This means if a landlord has a complaint, they can report it. But not all companies are regulated, so landlords have nowhere to turn if they have a complaint, and this needs to change. Belonging to a redress scheme would be the first step to making improvements and ensuring consumer confidence.”

The Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, Sean Hooker, adds: “Eviction is a highly technical skill that should be conducted professionally and sensitively. It is also an area where practitioners should be very aware of the service they provide to their customers. This is where access to redress comes in, allowing landlords and their agents to have their service complaints determined by an independent and impartial third party and things to be put right. The introduction of such a provision will raise standards in the eviction world, provide customers peace of mind and confidence in the sector, and increase the reputation and standing of those specialists that provide a necessary and valuable service.”

Landlords, remember that Rent Guarantee Insurance is the best way to protect your rental income against tenant rent default. The policy from Just Landlords will also cover your legal expenses incurred when evicting a tenant: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/rentguaranteeinsurance

Always remember to use a regulated eviction firm to avoid costly mistakes!

ICA-JL-VOTE-FOR-US

Confusion over Section 21 Notices Leaves Landlords at Unnecessary Risk, Warns Lawyer

Published On: June 27, 2017 at 9:25 am

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Confusion over new Section 21 notices is leaving landlords at unnecessary risk, with thousands of pounds being wasted on aborted possession claims and extensive delays in recovering property, warns a leading lawyer.

Danielle Hughes, of Kirwans law firm, says that the confusion has arisen as a result of legislation changes applying to residential Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) that began on, or have been renewed since, 1st October 2015.

Old Section 21 notices, which can still be used in relation to ASTs made up until 30th September 2015, require a minimum standard of proof from landlords that there is a written AST in place, the deposit has been protected and prescribed information relating to the deposit was served on tenants. Licences are also required for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) or in selective licensing areas.

Confusion over Section 21 Notices Leaves Landlords at Unnecessary Risk, Warns Lawyer

Confusion over Section 21 Notices Leaves Landlords at Unnecessary Risk, Warns Lawyer

The new Section 21 notices, however, which are currently intended for ASTs made from 1st October 2015 onwards and won’t apply to older ASTs until late 2018, impose several additional obligations on landlords, which must be complied with before the eviction notice can be served.

Now, Hughes has voiced her concerns that landlords and letting agents are serving new Section 21 notices on old ASTs, putting them at greater risk of having their case thrown out of court.

She says: “There are multiple reasons why it is beneficial to serve the old Section 21 forms on AST agreements made prior to October 1st 2015.

“Section 21 has, until recent years, been known as the non-fault notice, with the landlord required to provide only basic information for the older form to be valid, while tenants have limited grounds on which to dispute a possession claim.

“However, the new form sets out strict requirements with which the landlord must comply prior to serving the notice, including providing the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a gas safety certificate, and the Government’s How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England booklet.”

In addition, Hughes notes that the new notice has a shorter validity period compared to the older forms, and can only be relied upon for a limited time after service. This means that the landlord either has to issue a possession claim within four months or serve a new notice.

“A failure to adhere to any of these requirements renders a notice invalid, which could see the case being struck out of court, a minimum 12-week delay to the landlord, loss of the court fee of £355, and a possible order to pay the tenant’s legal costs,” she explains.

The new notice also provides tenants with grounds for defending the claim on the basis that the eviction was retaliatory and came about only because they had raised concerns over repairs that needed undertaking at the property.

“If a tenant has reported a repair that needs undertaking to the local authority and an improvement notice has been served, the landlord may be prevented from recovering possession of the property using Section 21 for over six months under the new regulations,” Hughes says. “Service of the new notice where it is not needed, therefore, puts the landlord at unnecessary risk of this defence being successfully raised by the tenant in court.”

Hughes is now urging all landlords and agents to take advantage of this crossover period to use the old Section 21 notice where circumstances permit, before the regulations come into force across the board.

“I would urge landlords and agents to seek advice and to carefully consider how they approach Section 21 notices if their AST pre-dates October 2015,” she concludes.

Evicting a Tenant Costs Landlords Around £2,000, Finds Study

Published On: May 3, 2017 at 8:27 am

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Evicting a tenant from a rental property can cost landlords around £2,000 and takes up to nine months, found a study by StudentTenant.com.

The student property portal also highlights that, during this time, landlords may also be missing out on rental income and will be forced to pay further court fees if they wish to recoup this.

As more and more landlords in the UK are experiencing rent arrears and with rents predicted to rise faster than house prices over the next five years, StudentTenant has looked into the time and money needed when evicting a tenant.

Landlords hoping to remove a tenant are waiting upwards of four months to regain possession of their property if the court eviction order is left undefended by the tenant. If it is, they are waiting much, much longer.

Evicting a Tenant Costs Landlords Around £2,000, Finds Study

Evicting a Tenant Costs Landlords Around £2,000, Finds Study

StudentTenant found that a well-known, reputable eviction specialist costs a staggering £1,981 to get the property back in the landlord’s possession.

Here is how that cost is broken down:

Serve a section 21 notice – £120 

Landlords are required to serve a section 21 notice to the tenant, giving them two months’ notice to leave the property. The tenant is not legally required to leave, and is actively encouraged to remain in the property by housing charities and local councils.

Property possession order – £685

If the tenant does not leave the property, the landlord must apply to court for a possession order to get the property back. The eviction process can take between four to six months, depending on how busy the court is.

High-court bailiff – £1,176

When a landlord is granted a possession order, the court will set a date for the tenant to leave the property, which is usually between four and six weeks. Only a court bailiff can evict the tenant from the property.

This takes the total cost to £1,981 and at least nine months to remove a tenant from the property.

Unfortunately for landlords, these are not the only costs they have to face…

If the tenant refuses to pay rent throughout the eviction process (and before proceedings begin), the landlord could be owed thousands of pounds in rent arrears.

Landlords are also forced to foot the bill for any repairs or renovation work required if the tenant has caused damage to the property.

In order to protect your rental income and costs associated with evicting a tenant, landlords should consider Rent Guarantee and Legal Expenses Insurance. This policy from Just Landlords will cover both tenant rent arrears and the costs of evicting a non-paying tenant from the property.

Get an instant online quote and cover here: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/rentguaranteeinsurance

The Managing Director of StudentTenant, Danielle Cullen, comments: “We really do need reform in the rental sector to protect landlords’ rights when it comes to evicting tenants.

“Local councils are encouraging tenants to stay in the property until the eviction date – usually months into the future – so they are eligible for emergency housing. Tenants can only apply for it once they have been legally evicted, and if they leave any earlier, they are choosing to become homeless and cannot receive any support.

“Landlords and tenants are being really let down by the regulations in the sector. When it comes to removing non-paying tenants, the Government needs to make changes to make it quicker to remove a tenant in this kind of situation. There also needs to be more support for tenants who are being evicted through no fault of their own. They should be supported in finding a new property, to prevent them from having to stay until they are literally forced out.”