The government’s decision to force letting agents to complete a preliminary hearing before they apply for a court date for possession is causing substantial delays, a leading evictions specialist has said.
The Review Hearings have been an additional hurdle for agents and landlords since the government reopened the courts for evictions on September 20th.
The official reason for this was to help courts prioritise the most urgent cases, but eviction expert Paul Shamplina also believes it was designed to put another roadblock in the way and deter all but the most determined property owners and managers.
In response, Shamplina’s company Landlord Action has set up a specialist team to help.
The purpose of the new Review Hearing, which is carried out over the phone, is to determine whether the landlord’s case should proceed to a substantive hearing at a later date.
But to determine this, solicitors are required to provide a huge amount of paperwork.
This includes the claims form, particulars of the claim, rent statements for the last two years, daily rate of rent and interest, the tenancy agreement, statements setting out previous attempts to recover arrears and the effects of Covid on both the landlord and tenant.
This bundle must be filed via email and a copy issued to the tenants 14 days prior to the review hearing. If it is not filed, cases can be struck out.
“Whether a case proceeds as priority to a Substantive Hearing will be determined by the evidence submitted prior to the hearing so there is no margin for error,” says Shamplina (pictured).
“We are doing everything we can to minimise this delay but it is unexpected additional work, which then has to replicated for the Substantive Hearing.