What are Enforcement Agents and when do you need to call them in? Here’s our useful guide for landlords…

Bailiffs, Enforcement Agents, High Court Enforcement Officers, Sheriffs…are you confused about their different roles and powers?

Every landlord should understand what each of these professionals do and when they need to call on their services.

Here’s our handy guide to why Enforcement Agents can be so useful for landlords.

 

What do Enforcement Agents do?

Enforcement Agents are qualified, experienced people who understand property law and understand the rights of landlords and tenants.

They are certified by a County Court judge and they can enforce rent arrears, council tax arrears, business rates arrears, parking fines, and child maintenance payment arrears.

They work under the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, along with the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 plus the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.

They can also:

  • Advise landlords on the correct methods of eviction.
  • Act as the landlord’s spokesperson in conversations with tenants.
  • Relay information about tenants to landlords.
  • Help to ensure possession orders are enforced within the law.
  • Act as officers of the High Court – in other words they become sheriffs of the court enforcing its orders.

When a tenants refuses to comply with an eviction order and fails to vacate a property, the law requires that landlords use Enforcement Agents to resolve the situation.

 

What’s the difference between a County Court bailiff and a High Court Enforcement Officer?

A County Court bailiff collects debts on behalf of a debtor or the plaintiff in a County Court and carries out the orders of this court.

They can list goods and have them removed in lieu of unpaid debts and they are able to recover costs. They are employed directly by the court.

A High Court Enforcement Officer collects debts on behalf of the High Court.

That means he or she has greater powers as the High Court is a higher legal entity. High Court Enforcement Officers have writs of control which allow them to seize assets if no payment plan is agreed to or payment isn’t made. They have the right to access premises without being invited onto the site and can force entry to business premises if no one lives there.

High Court Enforcement Officers are privately employed and are also often paid on results.

They work under the High Court Enforcement Officer Regulations 2004 and The High Court Enforcement Officers Association’s Code of Practice and Professional Conduct.

All High Court Enforcement Officers must belong to this professional body.

You can find out more here.

What is the possession order enforcement process?

Once your possession order has been granted in a County Court and your tenant refuses to leave, you can apply for the order to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement proceedings.

Once that High Court order is granted, the Enforcement Agents are instructed and they attend the property to evict your tenant.

This usually takes between seven and 10 days.

 

Why should landlords take a step back then?

It’s so easy for a landlord to fall foul of the law themselves in this situation.

For example, did you know that even if a residential possession order has been granted, it’s still illegal for a landlord to change the locks?

Enforcement Agents bring legal expertise and are adept at handling different people and different situations.

Having someone outside the landlord-tenant relationship can also help take the heat out of situations.

Tenants can feel very angry with their landlords but enforcement agents are merely doing their jobs.

Enforcement Agents are used to defusing situations which could otherwise lead to a landlord being attacked.

 

Do you need Enforcement Agents? Call us on 01495 781218 or get in touch here.

Got a problem business tenant? Here’s the commercial eviction process explained…

Are you worried about taking a tenant through the commercial eviction process?

Our expert professionals are here to help you understand the stages you need to go through to get your property back and recover rent arrears.

From problems with the tenant to court action and enforcement, here’s our guide to commercial evictions…

Has the tenant breached the lease?

If so, you need to act quickly.

If your tenant breaches any of their contractual obligations, most leases give landlords the right to forfeit the lease.

Usually, this happens if tenants aren’t paying the rent but they could also have damaged your property or be running a business prohibited by the lease. The latter two issues may require a separate legal notice.

Making any arrangements with the tenants about late payment could be seen as an act of waiver, which could affect your right to evict the tenant, and you don’t want them to do even more damage..

So, call us in at the earliest stage possible and get our professional advice.

What happens next?

Your tenant may comply with the terms of the lease and leave your premises, or you may be able to regain your site with ‘peaceable re-entry’.

This means there is no one who is likely to oppose the landlord’s re-entry, you aren’t threatened, and you can get inside and change the locks, leaving a visible notice for the tenant outlining what you’ve done, why, the date, and that the lease is now considered to be at an end.

If threats are issued, you run the risk of committing an offence, so get expert advice before you attempt this and hire experienced staff to do this.

You may also have to go to court for a possession order.

A 28-day period where the tenant can apply for relief or vacate the premises is usually granted by the court.

If your tenant hasn’t left, the possession order can be transferred to the High Court for a writ of possession which is the basis for an eviction.

High Court enforcement agents, like ours at Eviction Plus, must then be instructed.

They will remove the former tenant with no more than reasonable force. We would never advise landlords to do this themselves or hire unqualified people as reasonable force is decided in each, individual case and experience is key to avoiding claims of excessive force.

Do you have trespassers at your commercial site?

You may not have to go to court to deal with them.

You could evict them under common law, which is a quicker process. A representative of the landowner asks the trespassers to leave and gives them a time period in which to do so. Generally, this is 24 hours.

After this time period is up, certified enforcement officers may use reasonable force to evict the trespassers. We recommend landlords do not do this themselves, as they put themselves at risk of attack.

Are you owed back rent?

The law says commercial landlords must instruct enforcement agents to recover commercial rents which are owed to them.

This came into effect because in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 in 2014.

You can recover this commercial rent without going to court under schedule 12 of this act.

Only rent, interest, and VAT can be recovered under CRAR (Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery), but we can collect the service charge and any associated debts free to the landlord and tenant if it is combined with an instruction for rent arrears under CRAR.

The debtor pays the fees for the rent arrears.

Do you need help with a commercial eviction? Call us on 01495 781218 or get in touch here.

What are the 5 times getting legal advice for landlords is vital?

Renting out your property can be a minefield, so having access to legal advice for landlords is a must.

Whether you’re a first-time landlord or you have a large property portfolio, getting a firm legal basis for your property business is an important step.

Here’s our guide to the five key moments when legal advice for landlords comes into its own…

  1. Complying with your legal obligations

From ensuring you have the relevant EPC certificate and a gas safety certificate for your property to make sure you are registered as a landlord if you have properties in Wales, you’ll need to ensure your property business has a sound legal footing.

There are several things every UK landlord must do to ensure they comply with the law. They must protect their tenant’s deposit in a relevant scheme, ensure there are no health hazards at their properties, ensure all gas and electrical equipment is properly installed, fit and test smoke and CO2 alarms, and check a tenant has the right to rent a property in the UK. See more here.

If you have properties in Wales, Rent Smart Wales issues licenses to agents and registers landlords and all landlords with a property in Wales must be registered. Find out more here.

 

  1. Setting up the tenancy properly

It’s important to ensure your tenants have valid contracts which include all the items you need for the roles of tenant and landlord to be clear.

You should include clauses about the consequences of nuisance behavior and non-payment of rent and include any rules about pets.

It’s important that your tenants are aware of their obligations in the agreement, too, so you need to make sure it is explained clearly to them and ensure they sign and date it.

 

  1. Dealing with problem tenants

Knowing your rights in law is important when you have to deal with non-paying tenants, nuisance tenants, or those who won’t leave after the end of their tenancy.

You could make the situation much worse by acting outside the law, for example, so getting advice on your rights of access and possession is vital.

 

  1. Evicting tenants and chasing debts

You need to know which notice would be best to evict your tenant, a section 8 or section 21 notice.

Section 8 relies on alleged breaches of tenancy agreements and section 21 is a no-fault eviction which gives a minimum of two months’ notice at the end of a fixed term.

If you rely on section 8 and the tenants solve the problem, such as paying rent owed or making the damage good, you may not be able to pursue your eviction process.

Talking to expert staff about the legal implications of each will help you make an informed choice.

When it comes to pursuing unpaid rent, you’ll need legal advice to take the matter to court and gain a payment order.

 

  1. If your tenant makes a formal complaint against you.

Some landlords have found that tenants have made complaints about the safety of their properties, for example about gas boilers and electrics, unsafe windows, or problems with pests.

They may also make a complaint about where and how their deposit is being held.

Understanding your obligations in law and your rights as a landlord will help you navigate a potentially tricky problem.

 

Do you need legal advice for landlords from our Eviction Plus experts? Call us on 01495 781218 or get in touch here.