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New court service for tenants risks more landlords facing huge eviction costs


The new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service could result in more landlords fighting - and potentially losing - expensive court battles.

There are fears that the threat of a £15,000 legal bill if they lose their possession claim hearing could be enough to dissuade some from taking legal action.

From 1st August, tenants facing eviction or repossession can get free early legal advice on housing, debt, and welfare benefits issues before appearing in court, as well as continuing to get advice and representation on the day of their hearing. It replaces the Housing Possession Court Duty Service which only offers 'on the day' emergency advice and advocacy.

Unintended consequence

paul sowerbutts

Paul Sowerbutts (pictured), head of legal action at Landlord Action, tells LandlordZONE that while it will mean more tenants get advice earlier, the likely - unintended - consequence will be more tenants also getting full legal aid, so that landlords end up fighting more lengthy and costly court battles.

He says costs of at least £15,000 for a one-day trial are not uncommon. 'This scheme makes it more likely for a case to go to a full day trial - tenants can cause more mischief and are at a significant advantage,' says Sowerbutts. 'If they lose the case, they don't have to pay costs.'

More difficult

He adds that the upcoming reforms and this new scheme will make it more difficult to be a small landlord, although it should encourage a better relationship with tenants as landlords try to pre-empt problems.

One worried landlord tells LandlordZONE: 'It seems very unfair as tenants don't need to be means-tested to get help while we have to pay for representation, which is a lot for someone who only has one or two properties. The system is really weighted against landlords.'

Read more about the Housing Loss Prevention Services.


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