On 27 March 2020 all evictions were suspended and most on-going possession claims were also placed on hold. Notice periods changed, reactivation notices were introduced and on 20 September 2020, possession proceedings were then finally allowed to recommence.
However, the system has changed following the introduction of “Review Hearings”.
A review hearing is the first time the possession claim comes before a Judge post the Covid-19 stay. It enables the court to have a look at the papers and check that all is in order to properly get the matter back on track.
Unfortunately, this extends the time and increases legal costs as it adds an extra hearing into the mix for new cases.
Parties must be available for the duration of the Review Hearing and may be asked to attend the Court. Although note that they will not appear before the Judge. The aim of the Review Hearing is for the parties to reach an agreement without the need to proceed any further.
If the parties have been able to reach a compromise or agree directions before then, the Judge will review and possibly approve a draft order, however, even upon agreement the parties do not get to appear before a Judge.
If the parties have not reached a compromise or agreed directions, the Judge will then consider the Claimant’s bundle. Providing that is in order, the matter will be listed for a “Substantive Hearing” 28 (or more) days later.
If the Landlord’s documents are not in order, the court may choose to dismiss the claim so it is imperative that the papers are prepared and presented correctly. If the claim is dismissed the Landlord will not only lose the Court fee, but have to re-start the whole claim process again.
Following the Review Hearing, if agreement has not been reached, a Substantive Hearing is then set down. This is usually listed for 15 minutes with the emphasis again on the parties to try to settle the claim.
If the matter is able to be decided at that hearing, the court will do so, however if a Tenant raises any sort of Defence, or the matter cannot otherwise be determined, the case will be put off with directions and a further hearing set.
In these unprecedented times, having to evict your Tenant can be not only time consuming but also a stressful process, particularly with the added steps outlined above. As always, it is advisable to speak with a professional to ensure the most cost-effective route is pursued.
Fariz Uvais is a consultant solicitor at Fahri LLP based in Whetstone North London. With a modern and forward-thinking approach, their team of highly qualified legal experts are all committed to giving you the very best advice and exceptional service. Fariz is on hand to answer your legal queries, please send your questions to Fahri LLP, 1268a High Road Whetstone, London N20 9HH or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article should not be construed as legal advice and the information is offered for information purposes only. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry.