Court approaching

Hi I have a final hearing (I hope) for repossesion hearing at Court at the end of August. It was section 8 with ground 8 rent arrears and a few discretional grounds (late payment etc).

The rent at the start of the case was just over £2k, it has built to over £4.5k now.

At the last hearing the judge wanted the following,
Disclosures from both sides by X date.
Witness Statements by both by X date
Expert report by X date after we both agree on a person and instruct them
Defence solictior will do the court bundle.

From my point of year, I adhered to all the directions given by the judge, from the defence point of view the following actions have been taken, or not taken;

  • Disclosures ( They submitted this 2 weeks after the courts deadline
  • Witness statement (It’s over 10 days after the deadline, I still have not received this)
  • The expert report has not been actioned or anyone instructed.

During their disclosure, they forged tenancy agreements and tried to pass them off as mine. I have provided the court and defence solicitor evidence of my signature (passport, driving license, S8 and S13 forms) which does not remotely match what they put on the tenancy agreement. The defence solictior is now trying to settle it out of court, they give up possesion in 28 days and they will try to seek help from the council, they will drop counterclaim for maintenance and also for me to drop all rent arrears (Almost £4.5k), not mentioning the court fees which I had already paid which is £1k.

I have gone back to them and denied their requests, I asked for half my rent and court fees and I will consider.

Would anyone suggest I just go court and chance it or accept their deal as I feel they are trying to get off scott free?

If we did proceed to trial, the judge will be without the case bundle, expert review so I will emphasise that this can;t be adjourned as they had 3 months to sort this out, not mentioning on 1 of the hearings they failed to turn up and didn;t provide a valid reason.

I don;t have any legal rep as been representing myself, defence has legal aid lawyer

Attempting to settle is what parties are supposed to do so you have both done the right thing. (It’s in the Civil Procedure Rules if you look for it) There’s no blowback from not settling.

Court is a stressful process and always comes with risk. The main question is the effect on you of losing; or of getting a partial win; or of winning.

Sometimes, if you are up for the risk, the experience of taking it all the way is more valuable than the win/loss as you can bank that experience for a later time.

Otherwise get a solicitor.

Expert report by X date after we both agree on a person and instruct them

Does there need to be an Expert report? Seems an extra cost which presumably they expect the LL to pay? You might want to enquire, if you have not done so, what the issue is.

Defence solicitor will do the court bundle.

As the S is an officer of the court, it makes sense to get them to do it but the cost will appear somewhere.

Thanks for the reply.

The expert report was needed as tenants claimed the good old ‘maintenance’.

In there disclosure they have not procided any evidence to support any of their claims.

They are teying to offset the rent arreara through disrepair and also none protection of deposit.

They have been renting the property for 8 years and feel it necessary to forge a tenancy document saying they paid deposit, even though they did not.

Going back to the Order. Failing to follow the Order is a major black mark as following the Mitchell case, courts started to tighten up on imposing the Civil Procedure Rules. The solicitor should know this and you might want to go back to him/her and ask why the other party is not following the Order as you will be bringing that up.

Mention you’ll be bringing up the falsification with the judge as it goes to the core of the value of any of their evidence - though it seems they don’t have much evidence.

Your strongest point at this stage, is the threat of a CCJ. Any T with a CCJ can kiss goodbye to private accommodation. Also Council’s will look closely at those with a recent CCJ if they consider the T to have made themselves “intentionally homeless”. This likely explains why they want to escape debt free as the alternatives are not pleasant.

If you press their solicitor on these points and reinforce the idea that he has to look after their best interests, it may be in their best interests to fold at this stage, pay something and co-operate.

Stay out of court if you can as it can be a lottery - unless you want the experience.

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The out of court settlement came a few days after we sent a letter to the court and the Tenant solicitor, our letter pointed out we need some time in the trial to go over the documentation presented by the defence in their disclosure. I don’t recognise the documents and I believe offences against the forgery and counterfeit act 1981 has been commited. I also produced signatures of what my signature shoukd look like. It’s after that we received a letter for out of court settlement, they will give up possesion within 28 days.

It will come as no surprise that people lie in court - often. Judges will consider any evidence and remove the parts of any claim that are tainted with it. The remainder of the claim goes forward.

If you are happy to swallow the £5.5K, the tenants will be pleased as they will have no evidence of a CCJ (allowing them to seek private accommodation) and no “intentionally homeless” so possibly getting social housing.

Chances are they will end up in private again unless they score highly on the council’s criteria. Have you been back to chase them on getting paid?

Yes I sent their solicitor a counter offer, I will accept half the rent and my legal fees (approx £900) which I have forked out for the hearing to be paid. Still waiting back to hear from then.

If they did go court, they are going armed with no evidence. Forged tenancy agreement which I can prove is not mine making the deposit questionable. No expert report if alleged 'maintenance’issues that they claim. Also they have not provided 1 piece of evidence citing any maintenace issues that they have ever reported to me.

Just to note, this will be the 4th and final hearing. They also failed to show up for the 2nd hearing and couldn’t provide a reason. Basically they could not be bothered but for some reason the judge let them off.

If they turn up to the next hearing after missing all the directions (4 in total), i’m sure the judge ‘should’ find them in contempt of court.

Either way I will highlight that it should not be adjourned any further as the defence had 3 months to follow all the directions, just like we did and have.

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It sounds like you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

I personally would not back down, assuming the tenant has assets (car or valuables), a known bank account with money in it, or a known employer you could attach his / her earnings from, otherwise you could potentially get nothing even if you win the case.

If you still wish to abide by your offer, I would write a letter / email, headed “Without Prejudice”, repeating your offer and place a time limit on it.

I agree you should also insist on a judgement at the next hearing.

I don’t necessarily agree with this statement, particularly in the case of a straight forward Section 8 wherein you say you have all the evidence to prove your case and the tenant appears to have none. You need simply to follow the judges’ instructions, present your case clearly and comprehensively, referring to your evidence, and respect the judges’ position. It’s all relatively informal sitting around a conference table, not up on a witness stand. The judge may ask you questions about your evidence, but this would not be aggressive or trying to trip you up, simply for clarification.

I do agree with this statement, experience is well worth pursuing this case, particularly as it appears you have a strong case, with the caveat that you will likely have to chase the judgement sum with additional costs for a Warrant, assuming they have something to go after as noted above.

Bear in mind the case could be dismissed if the tenant repays any of the due rent to reduce the debt below the 2-months’ rent sum (even only £1 under) prior to the hearing. Hence the reason most landlords go for a Section 21. You don’t have to wait for the 2-months to lapse in total as the debt is evident from the day due for rent payment, i.e. one month and a day. The other question is whether debt recovery is more important than repossessing your property.

Good luck.

Thank you Chris,

Just to provide an update on my case, my hearing date is just 2 weeks away and to this date I have not heard back from the defence solicitor. My offer to them was I will accept half the rent and my legal fee’s (approx £900 for the hearing thus far). I checked yesterday with the court if they received some recent correspondence from myself, the court confirmed what they had and the interesting bit is the defence solicitor has applied for an extension (about a week after my offer to them to settle out of court).

Therefore I’ll take that as they have not accepted my offer, even though they have not confirmed it themselves and going behind my back and trying to get the date extended. Presumably so they can get the court bundle, witness statement etc all prepared in time.

This court extension has not been agreed with myself, as i’m aware of it now I will write to the court highlighting that I don’t agree. The defence has had 3 months to follow all the directions and failed, I had the same time and respected the directions and followed them. Also I can;t see any exceptional circumstances why the hearing should be extended. It’s also not a good use of legal aid for the defence and also the courts time.

Also to date, I still not had a witness statement from the defence, nor the expert report (which both parties had to agree on on whom they appoint - I can’t this being done within 2 weeks).

I doubt the defence will even turn up to the court with a case bundle, just seems a bit shambles from the defence and if the judge allows this I will lose faith in the Justice system.

you mean at present you have faith in the justice system?? ( eg .pay for your stay in jail , when innocent)

Solicitors work for their clients and can only follow their instructions or absence of them.

T’s can apply for an time extension “without consent” paying the appropriate fee but likely the T’s have “Help with Fees” reduction.

You are taking the correct approach writing to the court but you have to explain why a delay is disadvantaging you e.g rent not being paid, increasing debt and charges.

If you are FOML you could quote “Justice delayed is justice denied” (Source: Clause 40 of the Magna Carta)

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While I have had no experience with rent disputes (thank God), I believe the courts would only accept correspondence if the other party is copied in. So I’m quite surprised that the solicitor didn’t copy you in as I didn’t think the courts would even entertain any application if they haven’t done it correctly.

I think you should draft an email asking the court for the judge’s direction (make sure you copy in their solicitor) requesting that they send you the disclosures as a matter of urgency as they have failed to comply with the previous orders.

Good luck with this. Although you seem to be in the right, I know the situation itself is stressful and I’m sure it’s a headache that you could do without.

As a taxpayer, I am quite outraged when I hear about how benefits get abused in this way by dishonest individuals.

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Thanks for all your advice, when I send the letter to the court should I copy the defence solicitor?

Since he didn;t copy me in the original extension request and I came to find out about this by chance?

Does anyone have any experience if the defenceefence request for extension is something the judge considers prior to the hearing or at the hearing itself?

Sounds like a “without consent” but the court will have sent you notice. There is no need for the other side to advise you as the court would do that.

The next stage for the defence might be getting the case thrown out as it is “without merit”.

“Without consent” - been there. “Without merit” been there too. Courts can be a playground for clued up solicitors so going back to my first comment - be prepared to learn (may be expensive) or get a solicitor.

Would the NRLA be able to help the LL here? Is she able to join and get legal advice on this?

Surely in this case the defendants solicitor can’t use the “without merit” option. What basis does he have for this? The claimant has provided all evidence whereas the defendant has provided none?

Therefore if you were the defendants solicitor how can you get this thrown out?

Hi, joined with NRLA, they don;t give legal advice.

Just another note, we received an letter from the court granting extension to the defendant. It was very vague and had no recitals.
We have the hearing soon, we also received an letter fromt he defence solicitor trying to come to an settlement. As per my original posts, they have not followed any directions whatsoever and also the evidence they have provided is forged so possibly in their interest to settle.

It’s been dragging on for 1 year so might ocnsider settling after I suggested some amendments to their points.

Hi, joined with NRLA, they don;t give legal advice.

Just another note, we received an letter from the court granting extension to the defendant. It was very vague and had no recitals.
We have the hearing soon, we also received an letter fromt he defence solicitor trying to come to an settlement. As per my original posts, they have not followed any directions whatsoever and also the evidence they have provided is forged so possibly in their interest to settle.

It’s been dragging on for 1 year so might ocnsider settling after I suggested some amendments to their points.

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