Landlords across the country are furious with proposed plans set out by the UK Government in conjunction with the HM Courts & Tribunals Service to increase court fees from 22nd April 2014. Landlord Action, an organisation set up in 1999 to tackle the problem of increasing solicitor’s fees, has described the planned rise as “extortionate” and has said that the new fees will have serious financial implications for landlords across the country.
Currently, landlords have to apply for a possession claim when they evict tenants from their properties due to a breach of contract. This costs £175 but will increase to £280 from 22nd April, an increase of 60%. Although the numbers have yet to be released, this rise has likely seen an upsurge in the number of possession claims over the last two weeks as landlords try and beat the fees increase.
Online possession claims are also being targeted by the UK Government. Currently, landlords can only apply for a possession claim online if a section 8 notice has been issued on the grounds of rent arrears. These claims are offered for £100, significantly less than the offline method, however, from 22nd April this will increase to £250, a rise of 150%, thus removing the financial incentive to apply online.
The only good news for landlords is that the fee for warrant of possession applications (when a bailiff is required) will not be increasing and will remain at £110.
Criticism of the plans has been increasing over the last few weeks, but the UK Government has remained stubbornly committed to its fees increase, stating that the changes are justified.
A UK Government spokesperson said:
“The benefits brought by a simplified approach with a fee which reflects the average cost of issuing such proceedings justifies the change”.
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, has vigorously defended landlords’ rights and criticised the UK Government’s plans saying:
“The rises are ludicrous and will have a huge impact on those landlords and letting agents that find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to start eviction proceedings. Landlords who are seeking possession of their property are usually already in financial difficulty due to rent arrears or damage to their property, so increasing the cost of fighting this battle, and by such a significant jump, seems wholly unfair".
At CPS Homes we are committed to supporting our landlords and feel that these fee increases are unjust, we will support our landlords throughout their campaign to see these fee increases scrapped. If you would like to keep up to date with the latest developments from this story or other stories from across the property industry, stay tuned to our blog for weekly updates or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.