Here is a question to the blog clinic from Julie who is a landlord:
After a lengthy process to evict a tenant along with a co tenant was finally successful, I have still not yet obtained the judgement debt or the accruing costs despite bailiffs being involved. It has taken time and expense to track both to their new address.
My question is simply “Can I sue the co named tenant for the balance of costs after eviction” since these have escalated as a course of further action.
Although I always asked for costs orders when doing eviction work, I have to say that in the majority of cases it was never paid.
Costs are awarded by the court to the person who wins the case, but this is always in the discretion of the court – they don’t always award costs.
In eviction proceedings, the Judge normally awards ‘fixed costs’. If you have been a litigant in person this will normally just be the court fee.
If you have used solicitors they will also award an additional miserly sum, I think it is £69.50, plus (if you are lucky) your costs of attending the court hearing (if there is one).
You don’t normally get anything else.
The costs are awarded against the losing party in the proceedings. You talk about a co-tenant – if this person was a joint defendant, then they will automatically be liable for whatever costs were awarded in your case.
However they will only be liable for whatever the Judge awarded at the hearing, plus – if you used any of the court enforcement procedures – the court fees for those procedures. So if you used the court bailiffs, they you should be able to recover the £110 bailiffs fee.
However you won’t be able to claim anything else, unless it was specifically awarded to you by the Judge.
So you won’t be able to claim, for example, for your time in tracing them to their new address or for the tracing agents fee.
As a general rule it is rare for a winning legal party to be fully compensated for the costs and time incurred by them in their claim. The ‘fixed costs’ awarded for standard eviction procedures are far less than would be charged by even the cheapest firm of solicitors.
In more complex cases there is a complicated procedure for claiming costs where solicitors will often employ the services of a ‘costs draftsman’ to help them, and where the other party can challenge the costs claimed.
Unfortunately also the enforcement procedures available through the courts are still very old fashioned, time consuming and inefficient.
The way to look at it is that renting property is a business activity and dealing with bad tenants and tracing debtors is an expense of the business. You cannot expect to be repaid everything.
How have readers got on when enforcing costs in eviction claims? Have you made any recovery?