Avoiding Eviction Proceedings being thrown out of Court

By the time landlords get to the stage of Court proceedings, rent arrears have risen considerably beyond the 8 weeks/2 months arrears level that they have to be when the notice is served; if using a Section 21, the 2 months notice period has well passed and your tenant is still there, delaying any plans to sell or re-furbish.

Taking Court proceedings is the last thing landlords want to do, because of the delays and the high cost – £280 if done through the Court, £250 if the on-line possession claim route is used, but there is worse to come, if it gets to Court and possession is not granted the process then has to start all over again.

This is often because of small errors which can be avoided, with care.

Here are a few pointers to try and make sure that you issue notices correctly and will only have to issue possession proceedings once:

-          Issue the notice to whoever the tenancy was issued to and in the name  used when issuing.  So a joint tenancy should be ended by a joint notice.  If a company name is used for the landlord, then the notice should also have the company name.

-          Make sure you are clear about which notice you are serving.  Most landlords prefer a section 21, as a ground is not needed and it is accelerated possession proceedings.  It requires 2 full months notice, possibly more as it should follow the dates of the tenancy.

-          Although commercially available notices will include a “saving clause”, the easiest way to avoid problems is to use the tenancy dates.  So if a tenancy starts on the 2nd of the month, the tenancy runs monthly to 1st of the following month and the notice should therefore be issued before the 2nd, to end 2 months hence on the 1st.

-          If rent arrears, use a Section 8 notice quoting grounds 8, 10 and 11; ground 8 is the mandatory ground, which means a Court should order possession and says that either 2 months or 8 weeks (dependent on what the tenancy agreement says) rent arrears are owed. Grounds 10 and 11 are discretionary grounds which mean a Court must feel it is reasonable for a landlord to want possession but in cases where there is a ground 8, it adds weight.  The Section 8 notice should also follow dates, but in this case, the last 14 days of a tenancy period, so in the case mentioned, a tenancy ending on 1st of the month must have a notice issued before 15th of the month, to end 1st of the next month.

-          Have a clear rent account showing what is due, what was paid and an accumulating rent arrears total. The best way to show this information is in the form of a spread sheet.  Landlords have been known to present a set of bank statements, a Court will not take the time to go through these and come up with their own figures for rent arrears.  If trying the on-line possession procedure,  dates and figures will have to be inserted, so having a clear rent account is necessary to do this speedily.

-          Though a joint notice can be issued, when it comes to Court proceedings, the Court paperwork must be completed 3 times for each tenant.  This is done automatically in the on-line procedure.

It is bad enough having  tenants you don’t want linger in your property so make sure you issue paperwork correctly; it saves time and money.

By Sharon Betton

Another Name for Universal Credit

Just a snippet from “Inside Housing” – it appears that the Department of Work and Pensions IT team have been having difficulties with various design faults and delays.  It is in such disarray that panic and disorder are widespread.  A little levity helps with problem situations, so the IT have started to refer to it as “ubiquitous chaos”!

Seems little hope for the rest of us!

By Sharon Betton


Private Rent Scaremongering

A survey of 2,000 people across the country found that 39% of private sector tenants feared that the cost of housing may force them to move out of their local area.  It also found that people living in the private sector are more unhappy with their homes than the average person in Great Britain.

2,000 is a very small sample with the size of the private rented in Britain – over 10 million people at present and set to increase further;   less than half had complaints – again, not significant numbers; in addition, where did they get this sample from?  It goes against previous findings where private sector tenants were very happy with their accommodation.

Undoubtedly, tenants living in London and the South East may feel themselves priced out of the private rented market; in that case, they live with little security and possibly a poorer standard of landlord and management, even if the property is itself to a good standard.

Although the survey is not accredited, this really does play into the hands of the Labour party, already starting their election campaign and planning big changes to private renting, this seems to support their calls for a rent cap.  Many areas do not see rapid rent rises, have found their rents static for some time, in some cases, years. Many landlords will also say there is no necessity for longer tenancies, having tenants that live with them happily for many years.

Labour’s plans for a rent cap may  be pre-empted by Camden, who are considering a rent cap scheme.  The London School of Economics have been commissioned to examine the feasibility of some form of rent control, as it is an area which has rapidly-rising rents. They will consider incentives to landlords for property improvements, which will help tenants by improving standards.

It seems that other boroughs are considering similar steps.  This is the way to combat areas with uncontrolled rents spiralling, leading to the fears expressed by the 2,000 that were subject to the survey – authorities where they know this is a problem should take action themselves, rather than waiting for Government to impose restrictions across the country, in many areas of which it is totally unnecessary.

By Sharon Betton



Commercial Tenancies

A recent case made me think about “commercial tenancies”.  The landlord in question had let a property to his brother.  The brother put in a claim for housing benefit and had it refused – it was not a “commercial”  tenancy.

In looking at the details, it was easy to see why they had reached this conclusion.  There are rare occasions when housing benefit will be paid to a tenant related to the landlord, but it must be clear that this is a proper tenancy, set up the same as any other.  I don’t guarantee it would work, but it at least gives you something to argue with!

-          Don’t lie about the relationship – if asked, be honest; if it is later discovered that you did not disclose a relationship, it would constitute fraud and would create suspicion of any future dealings with housing benefit/Department of Work and Pensions.

-          Do not buy a property and put a relative in it as the first tenant – it needs to be part of your portfolio, not purchased just to help your relative.

-          Since 2007, landlords have been able to be certain exactly how much local housing allowance the  tenant is entitled to – so don’t give relatives properties that are bigger than they require.  You would not do this for a stranger, so don’t do it for your brother!

-          Set the tenancy up in exactly the way you do others – so take a deposit and protect it.

-          If the rent you want is higher than their housing benefit/universal credit allowance, then make sure he starts paying this shortfall immediately.  This again proves this is a commercial tenancy.

-          Have a proper rent account, clearly showing arrears and follow the normal procedure with arrears.  Send warning letters and serve a section 8 notice as soon as the tenant is in 8 weeks arrears.

-          Don’t put anything in writing which you would not give to a tenant who has approached you from a newspaper advert.  For example, don’t write “I will not evict” – again, indicates this is not  a commercial tenancy.

Using these tips does not guarantee that the claim will be allowed as not a commercial tenancy, but it gives a better idea that you are a professional landlord, unlikely to rent to a relative as a favour.  The best advice is usually, don’t mix family with business, if you want to be sure of your rental income.

Bolton Members Meeting – 5th August 2014

Dear Landlords,

You areBolton Arena Meeting invited to an open meeting at:

Bolton Arena Middlebrook Leisure & Retail Park

Arena Approach, Horwich, Bolton



 The speakers on the evening will include:

Inayat Adam – Oyster Energy

Inayat along with a colleague will be presenting on reducing energy use within the home using several innovative products available.

Michael Regan, Jamie Oliver – Bridge Insurance and Keith Winder – QBE

Will update members with information about the NWLA Insurance Scheme.

Peter Watson – Housing Standards Unit – Bolton Council

Peter will be giving us an update on “Developments and Projects in Bolton”.

Matthew Watson -Trade Point – B & Q 

Matthew will explain how best to use the Trade Point card and make the most of the savings available by shopping as smart as possible in tandem with other offers.

We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speakers, guests and other members.

We have arranged for tea, coffee and biscuits to be available from 7.30 pm, the meeting will start at 8.00 pm prompt.

Hope to see you there!

Yours sincerely,

Harold Lever

NWLA Chairman


Manchester Members Meeting, 1st July 2014. By Sharon Betton

The July meeting we marketed as “the Summer Event” at the Irish World Heritage Centre.  We had a good turnout as we had arranged a buffet and had an excellent speaker arranged.  Comment from two members who attended was “venue was great, the buffet was exceptional, loads to eat for all tastes, the apple pie was the best I have had in a very long time” – definitely agreed with that!  Are you sorry you missed it?

Our old friend, Phil Gibbs, of P. R. Gibbs & Co gave an in-depth presentation overview of Market Value and Worth, with a commentary on valuation methodology, investment appraisal, investment yields and the benefits versus risks of debt funding.  As always, Phil’s delivery was excellent and gave a lot of useful and interesting information but, perhaps aware that a lot of people like to mull over information, he also provided a really informative pack, a useful resource for anyone considering investment.  We will have a few packs available in the office next week, should you have been unable to attend but want to benefit from Phil’s expertise. He is also happy for anyone to ring him to discuss.

Following a main speaker cancelling on the day we were very lucky, in that Peter Whitehead, of Whitehead’s solicitors , was attending and though without preparation, he managed to speak well for a short time on what they do and what they can offer.  He has already written one article for the newsletter and has since offered some guidance on deposit protection in the light of Superstrike. We very much look forward to working with Peter and his team in the future.

Dr. Margaret Collier ended the meeting with an explanation of how the Rent Service has changed its’ method of calculating the rents payable in a Broad Rental Market Area.  They are now only required to use a representative sample of 20% of the rents in an area, which seems low and not likely to be truly representative.  Another case of the private landlord getting the rough end of the stick!

It was a useful and enjoyable meeting and we were glad to see so many attend, though like Oliver, we always want some more!

Come to the next meeting in Manchester on 2nd September 2014, the next in Bolton on 5th August 2014. Both meetings start at 7.30pm.



Deregulation Bill

Tenancy Deposits (Clause 31)

A new clause was inserted which would amend the tenancy deposit provisions in the Housing Act 2004. Oliver Heald explained that the 2004 Act was not intended to affect deposits paid to landlords prior to 2007 (when the relevant part of the 2004 Act came into force) and that “it was never the intention that landlords who had protected deposits and who had given their tenants information about that protection should then have to reissue the same information about the deposit protection each and every time the tenancy was renewed, although the same deposit would continue to be protected in the same scheme from one tenancy to the next”.20 However, in the case of Superstrike v Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669, the Court of Appeal had held that “the deposit must be treated as having been paid by the tenant afresh at the start of the statutory periodic tenancy”.

Mr Heald said this case put a large number of landlords “at risk of court action and open to a financial penalty, despite having done what the sector and successive Governments considered to be the right thing”.

Clause 31 would therefore ensure that if a landlord had complied with the tenancy deposit protections requirements for a tenancy, s/he would not need to comply with them again for a replacement tenancy with the same tenant.

Where the requirements were not complied with for the original tenancy (for example if it began prior to 2007) and a replacement statutory tenancy was in place, clause 31 would give the landlord extra time to comply with the requirements.

The link is


By Margaret Collier



Meeting with DWP, Salford 3rd July 2014 by Sharon Betton

I have been to several of these meetings now and am pleased to say that I am managing to make the voice of the private landlord heard.

The main content of this meeting was Salford going “live” with Universal Credit on 21st July, in Eccles and Worsley Jobcentres for selected postcodes. As clients will be told where they must make their applications, I have concerns for how they are meant to get to their designated Jobcentre Plus; certainly where I live, it would be 2 buses to get to Worsley, one to get to Eccles but this is a service that runs twice an hour.  Cost and time implications should be considered.

There were a few points made which may be of interest.

-          Credit union accounts can be used, it appears, but how soon particular credit unions will be able to do this is dependent on individual credit unions;

-          Although it is being looked into, there is no provision currently to save an application half way through.  Tenants need advising of the documents they need to provide before they start the application process so they can go through it in one go – estimates for completing a claim were about 45 minutes, with appointments to use the IT being given for 1 hour;

-          For people in temporary accommodation, the housing costs can be taken out of universal credit and the housing element paid direct to the landlord;

-          Change-of-circumstances can be done over the telephone, but change of bank details must be done face-to-face;

-          Although a tenant on housing benefit may have his rent paid direct to the landlord, there will be no automatic transfer when they go onto universal credit – the tenant will have to make another case on grounds of vulnerability for an alternative payment arrangement.

Updates from the other partners were interesting, as were some of the statistics given by those who had contacts with housing associations.  One partner is aware of an association with 57 tenants on Universal Credit, with 55 of them needing alternative payment arrangements.  Another knows of an association with 7 on universal credit, 5 of whom owed over £500!  This was a great contrast to a previous meeting where it had been stated 78% had no worries about budgeting.

A question was asked about sanctions – it was answered that where a client is sanctioned, it is the personal allowance that is cut, not housing costs; however, this would be checked to ensure this is the case.  A representative of Citizens Advice stated that private landlords need the same access to the DWP as social landlords and they are working on this.

Few of our landlords are in Salford, but the steps they are going through should be mirrored by other authorities as Universal Credit is rolled out over the NorthWest.




Members attending the Manchester members meeting in May at the Irish World Heritage Centre received a class-act presentation entitled Housing Disrepair and Avoiding Claims from solicitor Matthew Wilson of Whiteheads Solicitors.

Matthew has the benefit of having worked on the other side of the tracks, as a representative of tenants who make claims of disrepair, so he has a broad view of the situations that landlords may find themselves in regarding disrepair, some of which has been triggered by tenant behaviour.

The presentation covered the landlord’s repairing obligations, both contractual and statutory, the essentials of the case which a tenant can rely on to make a valid claim and the defences which a landlord can use.

It is a pleasure to find a solicitor who has a proper grasp of landlord and tenant issues and we look forward to further liaison with Matthew in the future.

Sharon Betton, our Business Development Manager was her usual competent self in bringing the group up to date with current reports and developments in the world of renting, ranging from the imminent introduction of Universal Credit in the North West to the current delays in processing benefit claims.

Typically, Sharon is a mine of information on how to manage property effectively and avoid pitfalls which can cost landlords dear.  Proper record-keeping was again identified as a key component of success.

Sharon also drew the attention of the audience to the increased publicity she is generating for the NWLA, both in her numerous contributions to Inside Housing and in her provision of new material for our updated NWLA website.

Finally, Margaret Collier gave a personal insight into the historic effects of rent controls, a topic dealt with more fully elsewhere in this newsletter.


Please note that the July meeting is one not to miss.  Not only will it feature Phil Gibbs on investment in property and a representative from Safe Agent, it will also be the occasion of our summer buffet.  Book the date now – 1st July at the Irish World Heritage Centre.  The venue has extensive free parking and is easily accessible.

By Margaret Collier


Invitation to Julie Hilling, M.P.’s, listening event

A few weeks ago, I wrote to Ed Miliband, following his announcement that if Labour were returned to power, they would introduce 3 year tenancies and what is described as a “rent cap” but is in fact just a move to regulate the frequency of rent rises by having this specified in the tenancy agreement.  The response I got answered none of my points and merely repeated the party line regarding 3 year tenancies, but made the (incorrect) point that landlords could still evict for rent arrears, giving 2 months notice!

I felt that Julie Hilling, M.P., had seemed to understand the landlord position when she spoke at our meeting in 2012, so I wrote to her, sending copies of my letter and the response.  I got a somewhat better response, because within days I was invited to attend a “Listening Event” for businesses in Bolton.

I was placed on a table with small businesses, which I did not quibble with because most of our members (with one or two notable exceptions) are small businesses.  There was a healthy discussion and some of the businesses were very open that they felt they could not expand because of the VAT system.  It appears that someone earning £80,000 from the business is exempt from VAT, whilst someone earning £85,000 is liable for tax on the full sum.  A suggestion was made that the VAT should only be payable on the sum above £80,000, which would be a considerable saving and could encourage some to allow for some business expansion.

Julie ended the event by asking for suggestions from each table that she could take back to Government, with a promise that what was said was listened to and that there would be more events.

It was an interesting morning and I was glad I went, not least because I managed to put the landlord’s point of view on several occasions.  To make sure the message had been heard, I stayed and had a short conversation with Julie on the specific points that caused me concern.  She was clearly not aware of certain aspects of private renting which hopefully I was able to enlighten her on.

I left feeling that in Julie, we had someone who really did want to listen and carry opinions forward – not a feeling I had from the response from Mr. Miliband’s secretary.

By Sharon Betton