More red tape in the courts is likely to make evicting tenants who break suspended possession orders more expensive.
The Court of Appeal in London decided that even though Cardiff City Council had an order concerning the tenant’s antisocial behaviour, they were wrong to evict him when he broke the terms of the order without first obtaining permission from the court.
A judge had ordered that he should not cause a nuisance for two years – but he had a series of rows with a neighbour to break the order.
The council argued that they had already proved their case in obtaining the suspended order and that this was automatically triggered when the tenant continued his bad behaviour.
Lawyers for the tenant disagreed and claimed the council had to go back to court for permission to evict the tenant.
The judges agreed with the tenant’s argument.
The result of the case is the same either way – the tenant was evicted due to his bad behaviour.
Only he remained in the property for longer and the landlord had to pay more court and legal fees for permission to evict him.
Around a third of possession orders issued by courts are suspended.
The worry for shared house and buy to let landlords is evicting a tenant will take longer due to clogged courts and cost more.
Tenants will also have a day in court to challenge whether a warrant was executed with permission from a court.
Although the case related to a social housing tenant, the decision is binding on private tenants as well.
The ruling overturns general letting practice as county court possession orders have been executed without permission for many years.
As a result, landlords should not apply to execute a warrant with a Form N325 but first make an application for permission to execute the warrant where the possession order was suspended subject to terms (such as to pay the rent or behave in a certain way).
“Landlords are in the unsatisfactory position of effectively having a second trial if a tenant does not accept that they are in breach of the terms of the suspended order,” said lawyer Cameron Stocks.