I did an advice today for a lady who had brought proceedings for possession (acting in person) on the basis of over £12,000 in arrears of rent. However the Judge put back the date for possession for over seven weeks (during which periode of time it is virtually certain that the tenant will pay no rent) because the daughter of the tenant was due to take her ‘O’ levels and he did not want her to be disturbed.
I have seen a lot of unreasonable decisions, but I have to say that this takes the biscuit! Why should my client be responsible (effectively) for the cost of housing her tenants daugher during her ‘O’ levels? Bearing in mind that even once the date for possession arrives, it will then take up to six weeks or more to actually obtain a bailiffs appointment.
No wonder the Law Commission in their Renting Homes consultation (see last post) received so many complaints from landlords about Judges use of their discretion in possession claims!
They propose to solve the problem, by the way, by making the exercise of a Judge’s discretion statutorily structured. This means that the Judge will have a checklist of questions they must answer before coming to a decision. Let us hope (if it happens) that it helps them come to more sensible decisions.
Mind you, if my lady had used our repossession service instead of going alone, we would have made sure that the claim form was drafted properly, which would have ensured that the very most time the Judge could have given would have been six weeks – and I expect my barrister would have made sure that the period was actually much less than this. But if landlords will act in person ….