New landlord has returned court docs; tenants damaged new flat and left owing rent

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    #16
    Notice of Hearing and Potential Claim Against Guarantor

    Hello again.

    In preparing for the hearing for my partner's claim for possession, I see that the court's Notice of Hearing includes the following note: 'This case may be released to another Judge, possibly at a different Court.' This note is made prominently in the main body of the notice. Only 10 minutes have been allowed for the hearing.

    Is this a standard note included routinely on all such notices? (I did check with the court before the claim was filed to ensure it was being filed in the correct court.)

    It has been suggested to us that the tenants may have been using the tenancy - or rather the failure of the tenancy - purposefully as a device to secure housing benefits. Is this possible? Could there be any connection between such use of the tenancy and the possible release of the case to another judge?

    Regarding the claim against the guarantor to be filed after the hearing for the claim for possession - assuming the claim for possession is granted - is my partner required to prove service to the guarantor of documents relating to the court proceedings, prior to filing the claim against the guarantor? The section 8 notice was served to the guarantor on the same day it was served to the tenants, but the subsequent papers relating to the issuing of court proceedings have not yet been served to the guarantor.

    Thank you in advance.

    Comment


      #17
      The court note is a standard thing, don't worry.

      The claim against the guarantor is independent of the possession proceedings. Send guarantor a letter before action and include proof of the tenants debt to you (court order).

      Comment


        #18
        Thank you very much, Snorkerz.

        Comment


          #19
          Yes, 10 minutes is a usual amount of time. If the session is going to take longer you'll have to book another session.

          Make sure you have everything to hand and duplicates for the judge and the defendant. Keep all your papers in date order. Most people get nervous in court because it's an important event and not something we do often.

          Run through, in your mind, all the excuses and reasons the defendant might come up with, and prepare your replies.

          One defendant said to the judge "I didn't pay my rent because I'm on benefits and she (meaning me) has lots of money." The judge tried so hard not to laugh! I was awarded the money.

          Hope this helps.

          Comment


            #20
            Thank you, Berlingogirl. As this is our first possession hearing, your practical insight is indeed helpful.

            This forum and website have been so helpful in dealing with this very unpleasant problem that I'm rather starting to enjoy it.

            Comment


              #21
              Court directions require amended particulars to be filed in only two days

              Members who kindly responded to my threads last September and October may recall that I expected the defendants in my partner's claim for possession not to appear at the hearing in November. They had vacated the property without letting us know and without giving us a forwarding address, and they owed more than three months rent on the day of the hearing.

              To our surprise, they did show up for the hearing.

              The result was that the judge decided that he would: allocate the claim to the small claims track; grant my partner permission to join the guarantor to the claim as a new defendant; and require my partner to file amended particulars of claim reflecting rent arrears and damage to the premises. The judge said we would be receiving directions, and there would be another hearing before Christmas - he joked about ruining our Christmas.

              We heard, however, nothing more until yesterday. In the interim my partner telephoned and wrote to the court twice. Still we heard nothing until yesterday, when my partner received directions dated nearly two weeks ago.

              So we are obliged to prepare amended particulars of claim in less than 48 hours. We prefer to try to get it done rather than apply for an extension of time.

              The particulars (form N119) and the associated section 8 notice are complex, the latter including lengthy detail. Possession was sought on grounds 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17 (relating to the guarantor). Under ground 12, details were given for eight different obligations of the tenancy which were broken. Two updated rent statements were filed, the second on the day of the hearing. (I don't know if the second one was accepted as formally 'filed' - my partner handed it to the defendants and the judge, but there was no discussion about it.)

              Much of the particulars and section 8 notice relate to rent arrears and damage to the premises, the key elements of the current claim for money.

              After reviewing CPR Parts 17 and 19 this evening, it seems we may need also to file an amended form N5 to join the guarantor as a defendant, although the directions do not say so.

              The first three directions read as follows:

              1. Claim be allocated to Small Claims Track.

              2. The claimant has permission to join [________] as a defendant.

              3. The claimant shall file and serve amended particulars of claim by 4:00pm 20 February 2014.

              (Further directions relate to things that will happen later.)

              No direction is given as to how the particulars should be amended, whether original text should be shown, or new forms N5 and N119 used.

              A further complication is that one of the defendants telephoned my partner yesterday and claimed that his partner (co-defendant) has left the country, and he has moved away from the address he was asked to give us in court in November. My partner didn't take a new address during this surprise call. We have received no written notice of any new address, so we don't know where to serve the amended particulars to him or his partner, except to their last address. (We do have the address of the guarantor, the new defendant.)

              Guidance on how to comply with the court's directions as simply as possible will be much appreciated.

              Comment


                #22
                Three related threads have been merged.
                I also post as Mars_Mug when not moderating

                Comment


                  #23
                  New landlord has returned court docs; tenants damaged new flat and left owing rent

                  After writing, filing and serving our amended particulars with only two days notice, we were surprised to receive from the court a few days ago all three of the defendants' copies of the notice of allocation to the small claims track (hearing) and court directions, which had been sent to the new address provided by the defendants in the hearing last November.

                  The court included a 'Notice of returned document' relating to only one of the defendants, my partner's guarantor. The court had sent all three copies of the defendants' notices of allocation to our former tenants' new address, and the new landlord had returned all three copies to the court, noting on the guarantor's copy that this defendant had never lived at the address, and the other two (our former tenants) 'no longer live here - left owing rent, bills and lots of damage - no forwarding address'.

                  (So the tenants gave their new landlord the same treatment they gave us - unpaid rent and bills and lots of damage.)

                  The 'Notice of returned document', which names only the guarantor as defendant and therefore seems to apply only to this one defendant, and not to our former tenants, notes that 'the document is nevertheless served unless the address given on it is not the relevant address for purposes of rule 6.5 of the Civil Procedure Rules.'

                  Given that we now know that the guarantor has not received the notice of allocation to the small claims track - which includes the direction that 'The claimant has permission to join [the guarantor] as a Third Defendant' - should we serve it? The guarantor's address is on the front page of the lease, but apparently the court was not obliged to consult the lease to find the address for serving the new defendant.

                  My partner was not directed to do anything regarding the joining of the guarantor as defendant - is he required to do anything?

                  The defendants' defense is due to be filed and served in a few days, but apparently none of them has received the directions.

                  Any advice would be much appreciated.

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Docs provided late and returned by the court; the joining of guarantor as a defendant

                    I would be very grateful for any advice regarding questions which I summarise below:

                    Does the court's direction that the claimant has permission to join the guarantor as a defendant require action by the claimant, or does the direction itself join the new defendant?

                    Are we required to serve the guarantor the Notice of Allocation which the court returned to us?

                    If the guarantor is considered served, what do we do if all the defendants fail to file a defense, which is due today?

                    Background detail to these questions is in my last two postings to this thread.

                    Comment


                      #25
                      The quick answer is you need to ask the court, or a solicitor.

                      It sounds as though the guarantor has never been party to the claim before? That being the case he wont have any knowledge of it. So is going to need serving with particulars of claim and allocation notices etc. You need to find out whether the court has done this or you need to.

                      If all the defendants fail to file a defence within the given time-frame, you apply for a judgement in default.
                      I'm not a lawyer, what I say is the truth as I understand it. I offer no guarantee except good intentions.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        Many thanks for your reply, monkeysee.

                        The judge agreed in the hearing last November to join the guarantor, but the court did not send out the Notice of Allocation which included the direction to join until the third week in February, and we did not receive it until a couple days before our amended particulars were due. We served our amended particulars on the tenants at the address they gave in court last November and on the guarantor (mother of one of the tenants), as a defendant, at her home address. We have delivered to the guarantor copies of all documents we have served on the tenants. She has certainly been aware of proceedings since we served the section 8 notice.

                        Would you recommend simply filing an application for a judgement in default, or should we first try to address the issue of the court having served the guarantor's notice of allocation to the tenants rather than the guarantor?

                        (General comments below expand on background given in my previous posts.)

                        We are reluctant to select and hire a solicitor at this stage given that our main purpose - getting the bad tenants out - was accomplished last October after service of our detailed section 8 notice. We are left with three months unpaid rent and the cost of repairing the flat, but at least we got the bad tenants out.

                        From the beginning staff at the court have resisted answering all but our most basic questions relating to administration. Their routine answer is that they do not give legal advice. The difficulty in getting through to them on the phone, and getting them to discuss anything, contrasted strongly with the court making a small room off its main waiting room available to a solicitor on the day of the possession hearing whose purpose was to provide free on the spot legal advice to the tenants. (There was plenty of time - we were obliged to wait a couple hours beyond the time set for the hearing.) The solicitor, who acknowledged that she had never before had any contact with the tenants, even attended the hearing with them.

                        The tenants involved are serial offenders. When an estate agent contacted us for references, we declined, but the tenants nonetheless secured a new tenancy and the new landlord has had the same treatment - nonpayment of rent and bills, damage to premises, departure without notice or forwarding address. We learned of the new landlord's difficulties when she returned the court's notices of allocation for our claim, and the court then sent them on to us, but only after we had filed and served our amended particulars.

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