A large share of buy-to-let landlords trying to evict tenants are being delayed in doing so by defective Section 21 and Section 8 notices, a law firm has claimed.
Danielle Hughes from North West solicitors Kirwans has seen a sharp rise in the number of private landlords facing delays, in some cases of more than two months, and consequent rental losses, as invalid notices - part of the Housing Act 1988 legislation - are identified and new ones issued.
Hughes said of the cases she has seen over the past three months, 70% have been held-up by problematic notices, creating a huge amount of stress for landlords.
She commented: “The legal changes that have taken place in this area over the past 12 months have been fast-paced and complicated, and many landlords are finding that the notices they have prepared themselves using online forms, or even those that have been prepared for them by well-meaning letting agents are out-of-date as a result.
“When trying to evict someone, landlords have to follow a strict process which sees them serve notice on the tenant, then issue a claim for possession in the county court, then request a warrant for possession and make an eviction appointment.
“Many landlords don’t seek legal advice until they try and move on to stage two of the eviction process, when the claim for possession is issued.”
The eviction process is a lengthy one, with the minimum court fees involved to go through all three stages recently increasing from £390 to £476, but Hughes said that most errors and risks often occur at the first stage of the claim for possession when many landlords or letting agents attempt to go it alone without a solicitor.
“Time and time again we are seeing defective notices,” she added. “The impact of this on the landlord can be devastating, both in terms of emotions, costs and delays, particularly in situations where the tenant is no longer paying rent.”