Landlord Loses Court Case due to Multiple errors in the Pre Action Process

This week another landlord’s claim was rejected by the County Court, after the Respondent (the ex-tenant) decided to contest the claim based on irregularities in the process of notice given to the Tenant by the Landlord. The Landlord was ordered to pay the costs of the Respondents Solicitor, his claim was rejected, and he was advised to issue the correct letters under the correct process.

So, what went wrong for the Landlord?

In a nutshell, the Landlord failed to take legal advice and did not serve the correct paperwork upon the Respondent and failed to give the Respondent a reasonable time to respond to the claim.

The Landlord was right in finding out where the respondent lived and served them notice, but that is about all he did correctly; it all went downhill from there.

The Landlord:

  • Failed to give the Respondent 30 days to respond to the claim, he only gave them 7 days
  • Failed to advise the Respondent that he was adding interest that was part of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
  • Did not advise the Respondent what contract was in place, and what type of contract it was
  • Failed to provide the prescribed forms

The letter and envelope were submitted as evidence to the Judge, who agreed it was not compliant with the Pre-Action Protocol and also noted a second-class stamp on the envelope.

What should the landlord have done?

The Landlord should have issued a fully compliant letter giving the Respondent 30 days from the date at the top of the letter to respond; lets bear in mind that if the respondent replies on day 30 but it does not get to you until a few days later, then the Respondent is fully compliant and has responded within the guidelines set down in the Protocols.

The Protocols are:

  • Letter should be sent 1st class post only
  • The date must be at the top of the Letter
  • Make clear whether interest or other charges will continue
  • The Claimant must state from where the contract derives i.e. was it written or verbal
  • Should outline the contract if written e.g. “Assured Shorthold Tenancy signed on 12/12/2018 for 23 High St, Highfields, High Town, Highshire, HT3 7WR”
  • If a verbal contract it should state who made the agreement, what was agreed (including as far as possible what words were used) and when and where it was agreed

This process has been in force since 1st October 2017 and was announced by The Right Honourable Sir Terence Etherton, Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice, it was bought in to:

  • Encourage early engagement and communication between the parties
  • Enable the parties to resolve the matter without the need to start court proceedings
  • Encourage the parties to act in a reasonable and proportionate manner in all dealings with one another

I think the lesson to be learned here is; that the Landlord failed to get any proper legal advice on how he, as a Sole Trader, should start self-litigation against his ex-tenant an individual.

 

So, who does this affect?

At Wolf Enforcement Services, we make sure that the pre-litigation process is followed to the letter and prescribed forms are used; we ensure that we will be 100% compliant at all times.

For help and advice on how Wolf Enforcement Services can help you recover those unpaid debts, give us a call today on 0333 772 0179 or email admin@wolfenforcement.co.uk