As the latest research by housing charity Shelter reveals 17 of the top 20 hotspots for eviction and repossession are in London, leading tenant eviction firm, Landlord Action, says the Capital’s County Courts are struggling to keep up with demand, listing its current busiest courts for landlord possession claims as Central London, Willesden, Barnet, Clerkenwell & Shoreditch, and Croydon.
The number of people renting in London has grown at an astonishing rate, now accounting for around 25% of the capital’s population, but many of the systems and processes to support this have simply not kept pace, according to Landlord Action. It says London courts are overstretched by the level of possession proceedings, with many of them even using administration centres to process the claims, rather than handling the processing in-house.
Julie Herbert, Head of Legal at Landlord Action says “There is a continued lack of resource available to deal with the processing of claims and a limited number of judges to hear cases, especially in areas which are more heavily tenanted, and/or have a high volume of residents that have been impacted by cuts to housing benefit, therefore, more likely to be facing eviction.”
Landlord Action says it tries where possible to mediate between landlords and tenants so that disputes are resolved before they require court action. However, with cuts to housing benefit, a lack of affordable housing supply in the capital and tenants having greater knowledge of the system, many cases still end up this way, with 25% of Landlord Action’s business going through those names as the top five busiest London courts. This means longer waiting times for landlords to the cost of thousands in lost rent, which can result in lenders threatening repossession proceedings.
Offering the following advice to London landlords facing this situation, Ms Herbert says:
“The best thing landlords can do is ensure their property paperwork is always in order i.e. tenancy agreements, deposit protection, correct notices served. Even those that don’t need to start eviction proceedings could well find themselves in such a position in the future, so it’s a good idea to get a “health-check” on current paperwork so that any issues apparent now, can be put right for a later date. Any slight error could see a claim struck-out, which having just waited 8 weeks for a hearing date, would result in a landlord having to start the process all over again. Another two months lost rent.”