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New court fees for possession

What are the new court fees for possession?

The court fees for landlords obtaining possession of their buy-to-let property are set to rise from the 22nd April 2014. From this date the fee for seeking possession through the courts with a form N5B will increase to £280 from the current £175.

The new cost for seeking possession using the Possession Claims Online Service (PCOL) after a Section 8 Notice also increases to £250. This is only £30 cheaper than using the paper based direct application to the court. The warrant for possession will remain the same at £110.

Can a landlord pass their court fees onto the tenant?

The new court fees will be accompanied with a change to the legislation that allows landlords to apply for a cost order to reclaim the increased court fees. Currently, the landlord is unable to include the court fees and costs in any attempt to reclaim their unpaid rent.

Why have court fees for possession risen?

The Goverment hopes the increases in court fees will raise extra revenue to help plug the current shortfall in funding for the court service. They are part of the Governments attempt at reduce the overall budget deficit. Read more at the Ministry of Justice document ‘Court Fees : Proposals for reform.

Landlords reaction to the court fees increase.

Many landlords see the proposed increases, which in the case of the online service POCL will see fees increase by as much as 150% as an increased tax on gaining possession.

The Government justifies the changes by saying:
“the benefits brought by a simplified approach with a fee which reflects the average cost of issuing such proceedings justifies the change.”

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action believes:

“The rises are ludicrous and will have a huge impact on those landlords and letting agents that find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to start eviction proceedings. Landlords who are seeking possession of their property are usually already in financial difficulty due to rent arrears or damage to their property, so increasing the cost of fighting this battle, and by such a significant jump, seems wholly unfair” says Shamplina.

Chris Horne of Property Hawk comments:

“Landlords have been hit by a massive increase in the costs of getting their property back through the courts. However, if these costs can really be passed on to absconding tenants then many landlords will see the increase as a fair attempt to make costs of service to users to reflect the real costs. If tenants are able to evade any responsibility for these charges the liability will unfairly falls at landlords feet. This is clearly wrong!”

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