The Government says that the bulk of homelessness is due to Section 21. Is this true?
Homelessness is not down to a single factor; there are several factors to consider including the reduction in social housing and the increasing pressure on existing housing stock. The UK has a housing stock issue and not a section 21 issue.
Landlords will always have a need to take possession for a range of reasons which can be anything from a breakdown of a relationship or the need to sell the property or make structural changes. The houses and properties they sell will be occupied, just not by the tenant they have asked to vacate.
I thought that for S21, the deposit had to be in a deposit scheme within 30 days. Is this true?
Yes, the deposit must be registered within 30 days of receipt with one of the available schemes. These are Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
What are the prohibited fees in the new law?
Every fee is prohibited unless it is a permitted payment. Permitted payments include rent, a holding deposit of one week’s rent, a security deposit of five weeks’ rent, lost key replacement, variation of contract as requested by a tenant, capped at £50, early termination of contract at the tenant’s request, capped at the total liability for the remaining rent of the tenancy.
Is it possible to make use of The Sheriffs Office after possession via accelerated procedure?
Yes, you can, but if you have used the accelerated possession procedure you cannot claim for rent arrears.
Is it possible to make use of The Sheriffs Office in order to evict the tenant within 7 days of receiving a possession order after getting possession via the accelerated procedure?
You can apply under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 for permission to transfer the possession order to the High Court for enforcement by an HCEO. The best time to apply for permission is when making the initial application for the possession order.
The decision is likely to be influenced by the need for speed. County Court bailiffs will be cheaper, but in many courts, especially the busier ones, it may mean a wait of several weeks for an appointment for the eviction.
On the other hand, HCEOs will normally obtain the writ within days and enforce as soon as possible thereafter.
My ARLA agent served a Section 21 notice but did not include EPC; as a result, 2 months later, we must start the whole process again with another 2 months’ delay before going to court. Is the agent liable in any way?
Unfortunately, as a landlord, you have the responsibility to ensure you have an EPC and if you are serving a section 21 notice, it would be worthwhile engaging the services of a reputable solicitor so that they can ensure that the paperwork is correct and that you will not experience a delay.
If a tenant has no arrears and is not causing any problems, can you still ask for a speedy eviction?
No eviction is truly speedy, but presently you can use a section 21 notice. Tenants must be given at least eight weeks' notice under Section 21, and those on a periodic tenancy have to be given any additional time that may be covered by their final rent payment as well.
Can you go straight to a High Court eviction and skip the need for a county court judgment?
There are very limited circumstances in which the possession process may be started in the High Court. These include:
- Complicated disputes of fact
- Points of law of general importance
- A claim against trespassers where there is a substantial risk of public disturbance or serious harm to persons or property
It is very unlikely that a residential eviction would meet these criteria.
When you start your claim in the County Court, you can apply under section 42 of the County Courts Act for permission to transfer the possession order to the High Court, the best time to do this is when you are making the initial application for the possession order.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance