Landlords instructing rent eviction specialists who are not solicitors to evict tenants need to be careful as the eviction specialist will normally not be allowed to represent the landlord.
A judge has ruled that eviction services that take tenants to court are acting illegally if they file court papers if they are not lawyers.
The shock for hundreds of landlords (although we have always stated this) who subcontract evictions to these services was revealed in the case of Gill v Kassam at Birmingham County Court.
Landlords Mr and Mrs Gill used a firm called Remove A Tenant to take possession of a buy to let home from tenant Mr Kassam, alleging he had not paid the rent.
Remove A Tenant handled the court case for the couple and a possession order was granted.
However, Mr Kassam appealed claiming Remove A Tenant were not lawyers, so could not represent the Gills in court on the grounds only a regulated lawyer can represent a third party in court under a section of the Legal Services Act 2007.
The act says conducting a court case is a ‘reserved activity’ that only a lawyer can undertake, although anyone can represent themselves in court.
The judge agreed with Mr Kassam, but decided the possession order should stand as the Gills were innocent parties and the blame laid with the eviction service who should have complied with the rules. He also explained the court papers were defective and the Gills would face problems enforcing the order.
The decision means any eviction service not licensed by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority cannot represent a landlord in court.
As many are debt collectors or letting agents, many of the thousands of possession claims that go before the courts each year could be illegal and overturned by tenants.
As only lawyers listed by the regulator should carry out legal work for landlords, anyone seeking a possession order should check if their eviction service is licensed before proceeding.