PRESS RELEASE: Court errors and bailiff shortages cost landlords almost £20,000

Court errors and bailiff shortages cost landlords almost £20,000

Pressure on our legal system is causing unacceptable delays when landlords seek resolution through the courts for tenancy issues. That’s according to property rental service provider LegalforLandlords, whose staff have collated a list of issues they believe show landlords are expected simply to ‘grin and bear it.’

Examples cited vary in their severity, but one factor, in particular, is causing concern. When the courts make an error, the resulting burden falls back on the landlord. Courts have misplaced documentation, but rather than apologise or fix a system that allows such issues, they expect landlords to resubmit and join the back of the queue. In another case, the courts issued a possession order but entered an incorrect property address. The tenant was supposed to vacate weeks ago, but bailiffs cannot be appointed until the court rectifies its error.

A third case is where possession was awarded on a Notice to Quit but the claim was subsequently struck out. The landlord is expected to wait another two months for the courts to deal with the problem.

When courts do deal with the cases and grant a possession order, the shortage of bailiffs can result in further delays. The capital is badly affected with applications in Clerkenwell, Willesden,

Barnet and Stratford taking several months. One application for a bailiff was submitted to Clerkenwell in July 2022. The landlord is still waiting for a date and is losing a rental income of £1,670 per month.  At a conservative estimate, losses are heading rapidly towards £20,000.

Even when a court issues a warrant, the misery continues. In Willesden, bailiffs received a warrant at the end of February, but they don’t expect to be able to act on it until June at the earliest. And with bailiffs under extreme pressure, appointments are missed. The LegalforLandlords team know of situations where appointed bailiffs have simply failed to show up on the agreed date. If that happens, a new application is required.

Much is made – rightly – of the need to protect the rights of tenants, but it seems the legitimate rights of the landlord are given little priority. LegalforLandlords MD Sim Sekhon has little doubt that a minority of tenants are fully aware of the backlog in the legal system and are exploiting it to the detriment of the long-suffering landlord. He said, ‘Some landlords are facing extreme hardship and worry. Regaining their property through legal routes shouldn’t entail delays of such magnitude. If we want a fair and decent property rental sector we need to ensure our legal system is equipped to handle disputes fairly and swiftly.’

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