Landlord Action has appealed to the Ministry of Justice to transfer more evictions to the High Court.
The eviction specialists claim the length of time it is taking to get a County Court bailiff appointment once a possession order has been granted – in some cases up to three months – is having considerable financial impact on landlords.
As a result, Landlord Action is campaigning to enable more eviction cases to be transferred up to the High Court by county court judges.
As it stands at the moment once a possession order has been granted, and if a tenant remains in occupation after the date possession was supposed to be given up, in the majority of cases the landlord’s current only option is to apply for a country court bailiff to evict the tenant. However, many bailiffs do not have a free appointment for up to three months.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, said: “During this period, the tenant will most likely not be paying rent and the landlord will not be able to recover that lost rent from the tenant, nor will he/she be able to let the property out or even make future preparations to do so. We have even had instances of bailiffs not turning up at all, which results in the landlord having to wait a further eight to 12 weeks – a total of six months additional lost rent. Only recently a bailiff attended an eviction for one of our clients, she had 14 evictions that day.”
Landlord Action has proposed to the Ministry of Justice that a clear directive be handed to county court district judges, encouraging them to allow leave on possession hearings to transfer cases up to the High Court in instances where there is a back log with bailiff listings for evictions of more than four to six weeks.
The proposal follows a survey of all Section 8 hearings (from 1 January to 30 April 2015) carried out by Landlord Action. It found that when the attending advocates requested to the judge at the hearing that the case to be transferred up to the High Court so a quicker eviction could take place, this was only granted in 16.5% of cases.
“We feel that the judges at hearings should have sight of the bailiffs’ dairies and if dates go over four to six weeks, then cases should automatically be transferred up. Cases still have to rely on the court administration to obtain the Warrant for the High Court Enforcement Officer to act where delays can be encountered, but generally it is much quicker,” said Shamplina, “We always try and make sure that seven days’ notice of the eviction date is given to the tenant, allowing them time to remove their items and vacate, as well as take the Notice to the Council for rehousing’.”
There is reluctance to grant permission to transfer up by the district judges, as under a High Court Writ of Possession; landlords do not need to give notice of the intended eviction, although it’s advisable.
Landlord Action said to help alleviate these concerns, a direction to issue a Notice of Intended eviction could be added by the judge to the Order of Possession prior to carrying out the eviction.