I was a bit startled to learn from a loyal Landlord Law Blog reader recently, that quite a few people on landlord forums (such as the LandlordZone forum) have been complaining about Judge error.
Specifically Judges chucking out cases on the basis that the section 21 notice is wrong because it does not give the last day of a period of the tenancy as the expiry date (required for periodic tenancies under s21(4)), when in fact the the notice was served during a fixed term when this requirement does not apply (s21(1)).
The landlord then has to apply to reinstate the proceedings (form N244) which costs him £80. Needless to say they are pretty upset at this additional delay and cost when their claim was in fact completely correct from the start.
Indeed this sort of Judge’s error could prove extremely expensive for landlords whose tenants are not paying rent, as it will probably mean an extra couple of months rent lost before they can recover possession and re-let to a paying tenant.
My suggestion for landlords acting in person, to prevent this happening, is to do a covering letter with the application form (which needs to be sent by post as you cannot use PCOL for the accelerated procedure) just pointing out that the notice is served pursuant to s21(1) and that therefore the notice does not need to end at the end of a period of the tenancy.
It is a bit much though to expect landlords to have to pre-empt Judge error in this way!
Requesting a review by letter
My other thought is that if the Judge is plainly wrong, can they request the court to refer the case back to the Judge WITHOUT applying under N244 and paying the fee?
I can remember at least one case in the past where I have asked (by letter) for a case to be referred back to the Judge when they got things wrong. This was done and the order was then rectified. This was quite a few years ago though and maybe courts are now refusing to do this.
It is a pretty unsatisfactory state of affairs anyway. Have you had this problem? I wonder how widespread it really is.