We recently navigated our way to success in a particularly challenging litigation case, whereby the defending party used various tactics to confuse and delay legal proceedings from taking place. While, as legal practitioners, this can make for frustrating work, it is all the more satisfying when that work pays off and our client is left fully satisfied and victorious after a long fought legal battle.
The case in question
The client we represented (we will refer to him as Mr Park) is a property owner, who had been renting out his property to Ms Ream (name altered for confidentiality purposes). The type of agreement between them was a commercial tenancy with ‘service accommodation’ provided to the company staff. Ms Ream had been using the property to operate her on business out of, which interestingly was a property management company.
The trouble started when Ms Ream stopped paying rent to Mr Park. The eventual amount he was owed was over four months-worth.
What can be done?
There are two options for Mr Park in this case. He can attempt to recover possession of the property by way of a Court Order if they do not get a court order and the tenant is evicted, they will have to pay compensation to tenant for vacating the property if tenant clears rent arrears (pay what is owed). The second option would be to demand rent arrears, but doing this waives their right to evict the tenant.
Mr Park came to us for advice, and we quickly started work on obtaining a Possession Order on his behalf.
What is a Possession Order?
A possession order is an instruction given by a court that tells a tenant when they have to leave a property. It’s usually made at a possession hearing.
In most cases, a landlord must get a possession order if they need to evict a tenant. Tenants can only be evicted without a possession order if they are an excluded occupier.
There are 2 types of possession order:
- outright possession order
- suspended or postponed possession order
In brief, an outright possession order means a tenant must leave the property by a certain date. The date is usually 14 days after the order is made.
A suspended possession order means that a tenant can stay in their home as long as they keep to certain conditions. These conditions are explained on the court order and will vary from case to case.
Deceptive tactics from the defendant
When we began work on this case it became clear that Ms Ream had already taken steps to confuse the tenancy agreement. For example, the tenancy agreement had been made out to a slightly different company name to the official name, which can cause validity issues with claims and proceedings as the company name must be accurate to show its identity, and even her own name had been altered on various documents.
On top of this, Ms Ream also tried to counterclaim for unlawful entry, trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment during her time at the property when Mr Park indicated possession proceedings. These were all unfounded and dismissed by the court due to significant lack of evidence.
Potential outcomes of Possession Orders
A Possession Order issued by the court will legally force the tenant to vacate the premises. If the situation between landlord and tenant does not change, there is little the tenant can do to dispute this.
However, if the rent arrears are paid up, the Possession Order will have no effect. Or if the rent arrears are paid up after the date for possession, the tenant can still apply for relief from forfeiture for the lease to be reinstated, unless a new tenant is put into occupation or the property is sold promptly.
Success for us and our client!
After some great legal work by the caseworker in our litigation team assigned to this case, a possession order was obtained from the court and Mr Park was able to reclaim his home from Ms Ream. This was achieved by their meticulous and pain staking approach in analysing the documents provided, researching the law, investigating the facts and seeking specialist Counsel’s advice on merits, before taking any legal action. Caution was particularly exercised in view of the tenant’s behaviour and tactics to refuse to pay rent and to refuse to vacate the property.
If you have questions about this or any other type of legal enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7928 0276 or email into firstname.lastname@example.org.