Unlawful Eviction Claim and Legal Costs Recovery


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What is an Unlawful Eviction Claim?

Eviction is a process whereby a tenant is asked to vacate a property. Whilst eviction can be lawfully executed under certain circumstances, there is a fine line between legal processes and unlawful eviction.

A landlord-tenant relationship is typically formed when both parties apply to reside in the premises through tenancy agreements. These agreements lay down the conditions under which a tenant can occupy a property, setting the stage for potential future disputes.

Should disputes arise around eviction, the County Court operates a key role. A landlord might file an eviction claim if they believe they have valid grounds for doing so, such as a breach of the tenancy agreement or non-payment of rent. However, to legally evict a tenant, they often need to apply to the court for a possession order. This possession order authorises the landlord’s move to reclaim their property.

For an eviction to stand in the eyes of the law, acquiring a court order is typically mandatory. Bypassing this step and directly removing a tenant is likely to lead to an unlawful eviction claim.

Several legislative acts offer protection to tenants. The Housing Act 1988 is a cornerstone, delineating the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Another pivotal legislation is the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 which provides a crucial safeguard against harassment or illegal eviction.


Making an Unlawful Eviction Claim

Seek legal advice: Before taking any legal steps, it’s crucial for a tenant to consult with a tenant solicitor or legal advisor, preferably one specialising in housing or landlord-tenant disputes. They can provide guidance on the merits of the case and the potential damages that may be claimed.

Gather Evidence: A successful unlawful eviction claim hinges on evidence. Tenants should gather all relevant documents, including:

  • Tenancy agreement
  • Any correspondence between the tenant and the landlord
  • Witness statements, if applicable
  • Photos or videos that may support the claim, such as damaged possessions or changed locks
  • Receipts for any incurred costs, such as hotel bills if the tenant had to find alternative accommodation

Send a ‘Letter Before Action‘: Before starting a court case, it is required that the Pre-Action Protocol is followed and that a ‘Letter Before Action’ is sent to the landlord. This letter outlines the tenant’s intention to take legal action unless the issue is resolved. It also usually provides a summary of the claim and the compensation sought.  It is recommended that legal assistance from a qualified representative is obtained from the outset, and they will be able to advise whether you can apply for an emergency injunction to prevent any eviction action taken at short notice.

Apply to the County Court: If the issue isn’t resolved after sending the Letter before Action, either due to a lack of response or failure to narrow the issues, the tenant can formally start the legal process by applying to the County Court. This is done by completing a Part 7 Claim Form detailing the claim (which may be supported with Particulars of Claim) for any injunction to prevent eviction, and also the basis of any monetary claim.  It is recommended at this juncture that legal assistance, either from a Solicitor or Counsel, is obtained to ensure your claim is properly pleaded. The Court then sets a date for a hearing.

The Court Hearing: At the hearing, both the tenant and the landlord present their cases. The tenant should be prepared to provide evidence supporting their claim of unlawful eviction. An injunction may be made at this juncture to prevent the landlord taking any further action, and further directions may be given for the exchange of evidence, in order for a final hearing to proceed to resolve the issue.

Judgment and damages: If the court finds in favour of the tenant, it may:

  • Award damages, which could include general damages, special damages, aggravated damages, and/or exemplary damages.
  • Order the landlord to allow the tenant back into the property.
  • Make any other order deemed appropriate for the situation.

Enforcing the Judgment: If the landlord doesn’t comply with the court’s order, the tenant might need to take additional steps to enforce the judgment. This could involve bailiffs or further court action.

Appeals: If either party is dissatisfied with the court’s decision, they may have the right to appeal. This generally requires a solid basis, such as a belief that the court made a legal error in its judgment.


Legal Costs


In some circumstances, legal aid will be available to cover the costs of an unlawful eviction claim. Eligibility depends on the tenant’s financial circumstances and the merits of the case. If a claim is successful, the Legal Aid Agency might require repayment from any damages awarded.  If legal aid costs are to be assessed only at the end, then a legal aid bill will need to be drawn up and submitted on CCMS.  In successful claims however, it is common for an inter-partes costs order to be made, allowing the successful party to recover their costs from the other side.

Legal costs in unlawful eviction claims can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the length of proceedings, and the specific professionals involved. Potential costs may include:

Solicitor’s fees: This is often the most substantial cost. Solicitors might charge on an hourly rate or a fixed fee for specific tasks. The rates can vary based on the experience of the solicitor and the region.

Court fees: Initiating a claim requires paying a fee to the county court. The exact amount can depend on the nature and value of the claim, and the most up to date Court fees can be located in the EX50 document.

Barrister’s fees: A barrister is often required to settle pleadings (such as the Particulars of Claim) or to provide representation at any hearing. Barristers’ fees can vary based on their experience and the length and complexity of the hearing.

Expert witnesses: Some cases might require expert witnesses, such as property experts, to provide evidence. These experts will charge for both their time and expertise.

The losing party is often required to pay the winning party’s legal costs. This means that if a tenant makes an unlawful eviction claim and loses, they might be required to pay the landlord’s legal fees. However, this isn’t always the case, and the exact details depend on the court’s decision.

To claim Unlawful Eviction Costs, the Detailed Assessment Procedure must be followed in non-fixed costs cases when an order for inter-partes costs has been made.


How can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs can assist will all aspects of claiming or defending unlawful eviction costs claims.

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.

We can further assist solicitors in the recovery of costs from the Legal Aid Agency for cases funded by Legal Aid, to be processed via CCMS.

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.

At ARC Costs, we also maintain an extensive legal network of expert Solicitors in the legal field of eviction disputes. If you intend to pursue an unlawful eviction claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we would be happy to pass on your query to one of the Solicitors on our panel.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.

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01204 397302


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