A leading property lawyers says he’s willing to act for landlords to take the government to judicial review over its latest restriction on evictions.
Last week the government requested bailiffs not to forcibly evict tenants in areas with Tier 2 and Tier 3 Coronavirus restrictions - an increasing amount of the country.
This means although possession cases can still go through court, they may not be acted upon by bailiffs in those most-restricted locations.
But property lawyer David Smith says such a move may be illegal and he will act for any landlords bringing a judicial review case against the government on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
“Naturally, evictions create hardship for those being evicted, probably more so right now. However, leaving tenants with huge arrears in place also creates hardship as the debt will follow them” says Smith, a partner at JMW Solicitors.
“The problem with the government’s approach is that it is almost certainly unlawful. It is not open to bailiffs or High Court Sheriffs to simply decline to enforce warrants and writs, even if the Lord Chancellor asks them to do so.
“They have a duty to do this. Indeed, there is a power to complain to the County Court, in the County Courts Act, about losses resulting from Bailiffs not enforcing warrants.
“This approach flies in the face of the new structures created around the re-opening of the courts for possession.
“Of course the government can prevent evictions if it wishes to. But it should do so lawfully by making regulations under the appropriate legislation and allowing Parliament to review them, not through backdoor letters to enforcement bodies. I have offered to seek judicial review on this on a 'no win, no fee' basis for affected landlords.”
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