This post comes from a situation I had with my work recently. Back in July last year I was instructed to issue possession proceedings against a tenant. The real reason we were bringing proceedings was because the tenant had fallen behind with his rent, but as a section 21 notice had been served we were using that and bringing a claim using the accelerated procedure.
Towards the end of July the time came for me to apply for possession and I wrote and told the agent this. “Don’t do anything without speaking to me first” he came back, “as the tenant may be starting to pay again”
The upshot was that the tenant did start to pay, and an agreement was reached with him by the agent. I was told to stop work and not take things any further. So I put the file away and eventually it was stored.
Two days ago I got an email from the agent. Were we still able to enforce the possession order we had got last summer? I reminded them that I had not actually got an order, on their instructions, and quoted my fee for making an application to the court for leave to lift the stay which is imposed on accelerated claims which remain inactive after three months.
Needless to say, they weren’t happy with this. “I was sure” said the client, who rang me up about it, “that we asked you to get a possession order, and so is the agent”. Fortunately I had the emails to hand which were very clear.
So the first point in this post is that if you are a lawyer you should always keep a record of clients instructions!
But the main point is that they should not have trusted the tenant to pay, back in July. Or at least, not to the extent of telling me to stop work.
If I had been allowed to get the possession order, we would be in a much stronger possession now the tenant has stopped paying. We would be able to go straight for a bailiffs appointment. Now we have to mess about getting leave.
Still at least we issued proceedings. I have known landlords left with simply huge rent arrears, all through trusting tenants who said they would pay and then did not.
Sadly when dealing with tenants it is best to act on the basis that they will not keep their word.
Whats your experience? And has anyone else had to apply for leave to lift a stay of proceedings in this situation?