Delay in Possession Claims in Court
It’s no secret that the courts are under a lot of pressure. With the increase in Landlord possession claims, the courts are struggling to keep up with the demand. This is causing delays for landlords looking to evict tenants.
The situation is stressful for landlords, and we understand their frustration.
The rise of landlord possession claims is a concerning issue, with figures from the July-September 2021 quarter showing an increase of 118% in London. Additionally, there was an increase of 106%, 174%, 87% and 10% for claims (21,012), orders for possession (15,352), warrants (8,505) and repossessions (5,403).
What are the Possible Causes of the Increase in Possession Claims?
There are a few possible explanations behind the increase in possession claims. One possible explanation is the effects of the pandemic on people’s income and finances. With many people struggling to make ends meet, rental arrears have increased significantly, resulting in more landlords needing to take action through the courts.
Another factor could be the changes in landlord-tenant laws over the past few years. Also, the concern about reforms expected in 2023, encouraging landlords to exit the market.
Finally, many of these cases have been delayed due to Covid safety measures that have been implemented in courts. This has led to a backlog of cases that the courts are now struggling to keep up with.
What Can Landlords Do?
With the current situation, it is important for Landlords to be aware of obligations. They must also know their options when it comes to taking action to gain possession of their property.
First and foremost, Landlords should make sure that the tenancy documents are complaint. Then, that they have followed all the correct legal requirements when serving notices and initiating court proceedings. We often see notices drafted that are invalid or lack proper proof of service. Or, situations where there is no evidence that the pre-tenancy documentation have been properly served on the tenants. (Deposit Protection prescribed information, Gas Safety Certificates, EPC and How to Rent Guide).
By seeking early advice from specialists, these problems can be rectified or avoided altogether. As a result, it will avoid delay further down the line when issuing court proceedings.
At Woodstock, we understand how stressful it can be for landlords facing delays in gaining possession of the property. Our team take an organised approach to ensure we progress claims as quickly and as efficiently as possible through each stage of the court proceedings. We regularly chase the courts and ensure our landlords are kept up to date, which allows them to plan financially for any void period.
Alternatives to Serving a Possession Claim
There are many alternatives to issuing proceedings to gain possession of the property and at Woodstock, we actively encourage landlords to explore all the options available to them.
One option is for landlords to consider mediation. Mediation offers a platform for both the landlord and tenant to discuss their issues in a neutral environment. A mediator will be present to help facilitate discussions and suggest solutions that are beneficial to both parties. Those solutions can then be properly documented to ensure the landlord’s position is protected and the tenancy is maintained. Often mediation is used alongside court proceedings so that if settlement cannot be reached the landlord can continue with the court action. It’s often a useful tool for cases where the tenant tales the position that rent has not been paid due to the landlord failing to keep the property in a good state of repair.
Another option is for landlords to explore rent forbearance agreements with tenants. This involves the landlord allowing tenants to pay reduced or deferred rent payments over an agreed period of time, while still allowing them to remain in the property. This allows tenants time to get back on their feet financially, while also ensuring that landlords maintain some rental income from the tenancy. With landlords also facing the pressure of the rise in the cost of living, this may not be an option for many. But, it may well be considered for long-term tenants that have otherwise proved reliable over the years.
Rent Repayment Plans:
We often work with landlords to agree, on rent re-payment plans with their tenants that allow them time to recover from any financial difficulties they may be facing. This usually involved an instalment plan to clear the arrears on top of the usual rental payments.
If you are facing problems with your tenant, it is important to seek advice early and ensure you consider all the options available to you. There are other options outside of court available and they are well worth exploring.