Section 21 Costs: Possession Claims

 

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Section 21 Claims

A Section 21 notice is a provision in the Housing Act 1988 in England and Wales. It specifically pertains to landlords wanting to regain possession of their property from an assured shorthold tenancy at the end of a tenancy agreement. A Section 21 claim generally refers to the tenant eviction process by which landlords serve a Section 21 notice to ask tenants to vacate the property.

For a Section 21 action, a landlord can seek possession by giving the tenant valid notice (2 months) without needing to specify a particular reason.

Section 21 Claims process

The process of making a Section 21 claim involves a series of steps that landlords must follow when seeking to regain possession of their property from assured shorthold tenants at the end of or during a tenancy.

The process is intended to ensure that the tenant’s rights are respected whilst also allowing landlords to regain their property in appropriate circumstances.

If you have received a Section 21 notice, you may wish to contact your local council and request help to find somewhere else to live, or to help you stay in your home.

Pre-conditions for Serving a Section 21 Notice:

  • The tenancy must be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).
  • The tenant’s deposit must be correctly protected in a government-approved scheme, and the tenant must have been provided with the prescribed information regarding this.
  • Landlords must have provided tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a Gas Safety Certificate, and the government’s “How to Rent” guide.

Serving the Notice:

  • For tenancies starting or renewed after 1 October 2015, landlords should use the Form 6A to serve the Section 21 notice.
  • The landlord typically needs to give at least two months’ notice to the tenant.
  • A Section 21 notice cannot be served during the first four months of an AST.

Expiry of the Notice:

  • If the tenant does not vacate the property by the end of the notice period, the landlord can move to the next stage.

Claiming Possession through the Courts:

  • Landlords must apply to the County Court for a possession order. This involves completing a claim form and paying the relevant court fee.
  • The defendant has 14 days to send their defence to the claim.
  • If the tenant does not dispute the claim and the notice was served correctly, the court will typically grant an Accelerated Possession Order, which doesn’t usually require a court hearing.

Bailiffs:

  • If the tenant still refuses to vacate after the possession order is granted, the landlord will have to apply for a High Court Bailiff to evict the tenant.

Section 21 costs:

  • Generally, if the landlord is successful in obtaining a possession order, the tenant will be ordered to pay the landlord’s legal costs and court costs.
  • If the landlord is unsuccessful, or they file and serve a Notice of Discontinuance, then they will generally be responsible for the tenant’s costs.

Expiration of a Section 21 Notice:

  • A Section 21 notice is typically only valid for six months from the date it was given. If court action isn’t taken within this time, a new notice must be served.

It’s essential for landlords to ensure they fully comply with all regulations and procedures, as even small errors in the Section 21 process can invalidate the claim and cause delays. If unsure, consulting with a professional or legal advisor is recommended.

Section 21 Costs

Legal expenses and costs of making a Section 21 claim can be substantial. Section 21 costs usually include Court fees, the cost of obtaining legal advice and assistance, and counsel fees. An application for an Accelerated Possession Order costs £355.

Possession claim costs may be assessed on either a fixed costs or standard basis, and the losing party will be required to pay these costs. Such costs are likely to be increased if the possession proceedings are defended or proceed to a disputed final hearing.

In an accelerated possession claim, where the Defendant does not bring a counterclaim nor otherwise denies liability, the costs will typically be lower.

If the Defendant does defend the claim and it goes to trial, the costs will be higher to reflect the increased time and effort required to resolve the dispute.

Fixed costs typically apply only in uncontested cases. However, many tenancy agreements have a clause obliging the payment of full standard basis costs. This stance was reinforced in Gomba Holdings (UK) Ltd v Minories Finance Ltd (No.2) [1993] Ch. 171 and Church Commissioners v Ibrahim [1997] EGLR 13. For cases requiring cost assessments, an N260 Statement of Costs is necessary for the final hearing, while a Bill of Costs is mandatory for a detailed assessment.

It is worth noting that even when fixed costs are applicable, they only account for a fraction of the total expenses for initiating a possession claim. Parties might also face extra costs such as Court fees and disbursements, which the losing party will bear.

How can ARC Costs Assist with Section 21 Costs?

ARC Costs can assist will all aspects of claiming or defending Section 21 Costs.

ARC Costs are a team of independent and experienced Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers who regularly assist you in the recovery/contention of costs.

Whether you are the Paying Party or the Receiving Party, we hold vast experience in dealing with costs matters on both sides. 

We can assist in fixed recoverable costs cases and cases where costs are awarded on the standard basis, including the preparation/challenging of Bills of Costs, conducting of detailed assessment proceedings, and the preparation of Points of Dispute/Reply.

Should you require our assistance or have any further queries regarding costs, please contact us on 01204 397 302 or email one of the team at info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, please complete our online enquiry form, and we will contact you to discuss your query or speak to our staff using the live chat function.

Request Your Free Quotation

Contact us today for your free, no obligation quotation. Our team are on hand to help.

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