We have expertise in many areas of housing law and can advise you in relation to all aspects from tenancies to evictions.
Pre action letter - Before action is taken we would advise a landlord to consider writing an initial letter before action to the tenant advising the tenant/s that court action will be taken if they do not consider either leaving the premises or, where applicable, paying the outstanding rent. In many cases a solicitors letter warning of such action will have the desired effect. Our cost for this service is £25.00 + vat.
If this proves unsuccessful then the issuing of court proceedings may be the only viable course of action available to you.
Action 1 – Serve Notice - The first step is the serving of the appropriate notice on the tenant. The type of notice will depend upon your particular circumstances and instructions. We will ensure that the notice is hand delivered by one of our agents and a statement provided to that effect. You may find that sometimes a tenant will adhere to the notice and vacate the premises before any further action is required.
The cost for this service is: £110.00 plus VAT if hand delivered by us or £50.00 plus VAT if you hand deliver.
Action 2 – Court Proceedings - Over 80% of tenants vacate the premises after action 1 has been taken. If the tenant remains in occupation then an application to the court must be made. The two routes that can be taken are as follows:
Section 8 notice route - Application is made to the court and a hearing date set. We will arrange for a legal representative to attend the court hearing with the landlord and act on your behalf. Once the possession order is granted a date is set for the tenant to vacate the premises. In some cases the tenant defends the case and the judge will fix a further hearing. This process could take between 8-10 weeks but is dependant upon how busy the court in which the proceedings are issued are at the time.
The total cost for this service is £600.00 inc VAT plus court costs (irrespective of the number of hearings required)
Standard accelerated possession using section 21 notice - The court application and all relevant paperwork are forwarded to the court for processing. This route does not normally require a court hearing and is purely a paper exercise. The court will order the tenant to vacate the premises by a set date. This process normally takes some 7-12 weeks dependant upon how busy the court is at the time of the application. This route is purely for possession of the premises and does not cover any rent arrears owed by the tenant.
The total cost for this service is £300.00 plus VAT plus the Court fee of £175.00.
Action 3 – Bailiff Action - If the tenant remains in occupation after the date set for the expiry of the possession order, then an application to the court bailiff is required. The court will provide a date and time when the landlord, court bailiff and if necessary a locksmith may attend and secure entry. This generally takes between 6-10 weeks but is dependant upon how busy the courts are at the time.
The cost for this service is £90.00 plus VAT plus the Court Fee of £110.00 (Locksmiths cost are extra)
The Housing Act 2004 states that every landlord or letting agent that takes a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy in England and Wales must join a tenancy deposit scheme. The new regulations came into effect from 6 April 2007, and were amended by the Localism Act 2011, taking effect from 6 April 2012.
It is common for landlords to take a dilapidation deposit from a tenant at the start of the tenancy. The deposit acts as a safeguard should the tenant cause any damage to the property. Some unscrupulous landlords are either very slow to return deposits at the end of the tenancy or make unfair deductions. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure good practice in this area, and try to keep disputes between landlords and tenants out of the courts by encouraging alternative dispute resolution.
The tenant pays over the deposit (commonly one month’s rent) in the usual way when the tenancy agreement is signed. The landlord or letting agency has 30 days from receipt of the deposit to provide the tenant with details of the scheme that they are using (known as the prescribed information). If there is no dispute at the end of the tenancy the deposit will be returned to the two parties as agreed. If a dispute has arisen then the parties will be invited to make use of the alternative dispute resolution process that is provided free within the scheme. Should the parties opt for alternative dispute resolution they will be bound by its decision with no redress to the courts.
There are two types of scheme: insurance backed and custodial. Under insurance backed schemes the landlord or letting agency pays a premium to the scheme but retains the deposit. With custodial schemes the deposit is transferred to the scheme within the 30 day timescale and held in escrow.
In November 2006 three companies were awarded contracts by the UK government to run tenancy deposit schemes:
Mydeposits, an insurance-backed scheme.
The Dispute Service (TDS), an insurance-backed scheme.
The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS), a custodial scheme.
If a landlord or letting agent does not both protect a tenant’s deposit and provide the tenant with the prescribed information within 30 days then they have no right to regain possession of the property under a Section 21 notice, unless the deposit is first repaid or, arguably, the deposit is protected and the prescribed information are provided to the tenant before the service of the Section 21 notice.
If the tenant applies to court for the deposit to be protected and it is shown the landlord is not compliant with the scheme, then the court must order the landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the deposit amount within 14 days.
The rules do not affect deposits taken before 6 April 2007; however, if a landlord renews with the same tenant for a new fixed term the deposit must be protected.
Deadline for registration and providing prescribed information changed from 14 to 30 days following payment of the deposit. Penalties for non-compliance apply even if the registration is done late. The court has discretion to award 1x to 3x the deposit amount as a sanction, plus the initial deposit.
The penalties for non-compliance apply even once the tenancy has ended
Either a Landlord or a tenant may begin the claims process from 14 days after the end of the tenancy. The first step in beginning a claim is to obtain a so-called Statutory Declaration by accessing the Landlord or tenant’s online account, and starting the process using an online form. Once a claim has begun, the dispute service in question makes contact with both parties notifying them of the dispute, and requesting any additional evidence, before the claim is referred to an alternative dispute resolution service, unless either party states that they do not wish to use the ADR service or notifies in writing that they wish to resolve the dispute in the county courts, or alternatively another dispute resolution service.
Contact us if you are having difficulty with the return of your deposit.