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Landlords face rising eviction court costs

Posted on 2015-05-27

For the second time in two years, UK landlords are facing rising eviction court costs. The first rises in April 2014 saw the Ministry of Justice increase fees for possession claims from £175-£280 (paper claims) and £100-£250 (online). Now, following a Government-led consultation period earlier this year, these costs are going up even further.

Here, we’ll look into what these new rises are, as well as the concerns that this might lead to some landlords looking for quicker, cheaper - but ultimately rushed and improper - means of evicting tenants.

What are the new rises?

The Ministry will raise the fee for evictions by £75 for each claim made. The new fees will now stand at:

  • £355 for paper claims
  • £325 for online claims

According to the Government consultation document, the reasons for these added increases are to help the Ministry of Justice save money, amidst the current austerity measures, and ensure a quality service is delivered. Article 6 in the case for reform stated:

‘The Ministry of Justice, in common with most other public bodies, must continue to reduce its spending to meet its spending review settlements. Enhanced fees form part of our plans to meet the settlement. The measures we intend to implement, set out in this Government Response, will contribute an estimated £120 million per annum in additional income.’

The new fees will apply to all private landlords, as well as housing associations, mortgage lenders and councils that make a claim when they want to evict for rent arrears. If the claim is successful, the tenant can still be made to pay these fees - plus the outstanding rent. However, until this happens, the financial burden is still very much with the landlord.

Following the correct procedure

According to information from Shelter, over ‘200,000 claims for possession’ were made last year, meaning evictions are still something many landlords have to face. There’s a worry, however that, with this increased cost, landlords may try to rush through correct protocols or try to physically force tenants to leave their property themselves; both of which are illegal.

Regardless of the price increases, the reality is that landlords must stick to the correct legal procedures when making a claim. While this might be more expensive, it’s certainly less than the possible expense incurred for failure to correctly file a claim, or the possible criminal charges for taking an eviction into your own hands.

If you’re a landlord and wish to make a claim, but you aren’t fully familiar with the process, you can find helpful details of how to correctly evict a tenant via the Government’s website. We also offer our own eviction service, which will help you through the process and ensure everything’s done properly and within the law.

The figure earlier quoted from Shelter, on the number of possession claims throughout 2014, provides a clear case for the need to be as thorough as possible when carrying out vetting and reference checking - in relation to prospective tenants. This article is a guide for tenants but gives a useful overview of what information landlords or letting agents will typically request as part of the vetting process.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

All information correct as of 13/05/2015

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