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Courts processing times - what's it like out there?

Started by MrsMiggins78, March 24, 2024, 06:56:17 PM

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MrsMiggins78

Hi there, I'm new to the forum.  Re: eviction under Section 8.  Served Form 3 to tenant in November, on several grounds: vandalism, theft from meter, place being generally foul but not for non-payment of rent (she has direct payment from DWP).   Applied to court last month, but not heard anything.  Understand court backlogs are significant. Meanwhile she appears to not really be living there, bed been taken (her own), also she's taken the oven (not hers, ours, reported to police). I was just interested to know what people's current experiences are?  Am I looking at 6 months, a year, to get a hearing?   FYI I am in Southampton area. TIA

jpkeates

It's different in different areas.

People have told me that county court bailiffs alone are taking six months from the point where a possession order is made. I have just been given a possession date from bailiffs two months after requesting their services in Hertfordshire.

There are national stats for the process, but they're hard to interpret, because lots of possession claims end mid-process because the next stage becomes redundant - the tenant moves out rather than being evicted, so that particular process just stops. In the last quarter of 2023, there were twenty three thousand possession claims in England and Wales, but only six thousand bailiff evictions (of eighteen thousand possession orders).

The timing is obviously a factor, the evictions won't relate to the possession claims in the same period. But the numbers are pretty consistent.
The government stats show that the median time taken from possession claim to execution by bailiffs is about 24 weeks across the country. Most possession claims are in London (in a few boroughs).

I would suggest that, if the tenants not living there using s21 might be more effective. Getting a possession order for anti social behaviour or breaking the tenancy terms is not easy if the tenant offers a defence. If the tenant doesn't turn up, though, it can work.

MrsMiggins78

Thanks jpkeates for a very comprehensive answer.  Doesn't sound hopeful.  The reason we didn't go down S.21 route, was because co-landlord who had been overseeing admin for many years, had omitted to get EPC. I took over admin in last couple of years and have been a bit slow to get to grips with it all and took what aging relative (who is co landlord) said as fact.   Having read up on S.21, lack of EPC made us ineligible to go down that route.   

We now have EPC in place, is it worth (or even possible) trying S21 now?  I think the only reason she's not conceding / giving any formal notice, is likely because she's on benefits and would need council assistance to get rehoused officially.  To get that assistance she needs be evicted to be considered homeless; if she relinquishes tenancy or doesn't sit tight until decision given, she might be considered to have made herself intentionally homeless and ineligible to be rehoused.   

The DWP are paying the rent on a monthly basis, so in some sense all is not lost, but equally she's free to come and go and the place remains a 'hole', equally any desire on our part to sell is hampered with a sitting tenant / unfinished eviction process.

jpkeates

There's no issue with the EPC being late from a s21 notice point of view.So that's a possibility.

Your tenant will be in exactly the same position as relinquishing her tenancy if she's evicted under section 8. That's likely to be regarded as making herself homeless. She should be desperate for you to use s21 instead.
Everywhere's different, but most councils have almost no housing stock, and what exists is awful. Your tenant should probably start being a little realistic.

Being evicted for being a terrible tenant (so no decent reference) is likely to be awful for them. They should be trying to find somewhere to move to 24/7.

David

Whilst you can serve both notices concurrently you can't file S8 and S21 concurrently into Court.

In my opinion you have done the right thing to go S8 IF you have at least one mandatory ground and several Discretionary grounds

https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/section-8-evicting-tenants/#grounds

Just make sure you get the paperwork right.

Regarding Council assistance I would be contacting the Council, informing them that she appears to have moved out, has stolen your oven and taken her bed.  You can innocently ask if this will affect your rent being paid and will this mean she is intentionally making herself homeless will the Council be able to discharge their housing duty.  If they quote GDPR then ask them to quote their general policy not her case specifically.

If she has moved in with someone else on benefits then they could both be deemed as committing benefit fraud if they don't inform the DWP, she is committing benefit fraud if she is not living there or if she sublets.

You may need to follow her to gather evidence of what you suspect, but do not harass her in any way.

Look at the specific Council Policy

https://www.southampton.gov.uk/housing/housing-help/homelessness-advice/#homeless-advice

and call the Bailiffs to ask them their lead time

However, also check the Shelter website for the process, many Council websites are out of date and do not reflect what is actually happening out there.

Honestly it is really "orrible" out there, people who are really vulnerable being stuffed into out of area studios called "hotels" or "B&B", some Councils have abandoned the bidding system and are doing it all manually.

This often means they look for any reason to remove their housing duty, so if she fails the PHP activity or in some Councils declines an offer of a sardine tin then they end their duty.

Non payment of rent can be deemed as intentionally homeless as can other grounds, it is possible that it is not her fault, i.e. if she rented a 3 bed house for her and two kids, but Council rules say that the kids can share a room.  In that scenario she would only be entitled to the LHA rate for a 2 bed house in the same area.

If she was paying say £1250 a month and the LHA rate for 3 bed was £1072 then the arrears may be manageable, but if she only needs 2 beds you would be getting £872 and she would be running up £377 of arrears per month.

However, if she is not resident and you can prove it her claim will be suspended pending investigation, her arrears would be higher because they would stop paying you but a Court will be more sympathetic to your case because of the level of arrears.

She would also find it harder to come up with the money to bring the arrears back to under two months.

In my experience when someone fails on one S21 prerequisite they fail on several.







Quote from: MrsMiggins78 on March 26, 2024, 07:42:02 PMThanks jpkeates for a very comprehensive answer.  Doesn't sound hopeful.  The reason we didn't go down S.21 route, was because co-landlord who had been overseeing admin for many years, had omitted to get EPC. I took over admin in last couple of years and have been a bit slow to get to grips with it all and took what aging relative (who is co landlord) said as fact.   Having read up on S.21, lack of EPC made us ineligible to go down that route.   

We now have EPC in place, is it worth (or even possible) trying S21 now?  I think the only reason she's not conceding / giving any formal notice, is likely because she's on benefits and would need council assistance to get rehoused officially.  To get that assistance she needs be evicted to be considered homeless; if she relinquishes tenancy or doesn't sit tight until decision given, she might be considered to have made herself intentionally homeless and ineligible to be rehoused.   

The DWP are paying the rent on a monthly basis, so in some sense all is not lost, but equally she's free to come and go and the place remains a 'hole', equally any desire on our part to sell is hampered with a sitting tenant / unfinished eviction process.

jpkeates

Quote from: David on March 28, 2024, 04:33:29 PMWhilst you can serve both notices concurrently you can't file S8 and S21 concurrently into Court.
Yes you can. I used to think this was the case as well, but I was corrected by a solicitor specialising in housing law. They are two completely separate processes and can be taken in parallel.

QuoteRegarding Council assistance I would be contacting the Council, informing them that she appears to have moved out, has stolen your oven and taken her bed.  You can innocently ask if this will affect your rent being paid and will this mean she is intentionally making herself homeless will the Council be able to discharge their housing duty.
This would be entirely pointless. The council have no legal way of recording what they are being told or any ability to do anything as a result of this intervention. When making a decision about whether they owe the tenant/ex-tenant any duty and if so what, they can make enquiries. They can't take any notice of something that hasn't happened yet.


QuoteIf she has moved in with someone else on benefits then they could both be deemed as committing benefit fraud if they don't inform the DWP, she is committing benefit fraud if she is not living there or if she sublets.
This is a reason not to interact with the DWP as the landlord (assuming that's remotely possible in practice). But it also means that any rent that is paid after the tenant has moved out can be demanded back by the DWP. So don't spend it. Landlords agree to this reclaim as a condition of the rent being paid directly.

QuoteYou may need to follow her to gather evidence of what you suspect, but do not harass her in any way.
Following someone is harassing them. Please do not follow anyone, this isn't a movie.

QuoteHonestly it is really "orrible" out there
Agreed, it is.

QuoteIn my experience when someone fails on one S21 prerequisite they fail on several.
Very true.