Repossession claims: an attendant's experience

Although the vast majority of actions taken for repossession can be resolved between the parties, sadly that is not always the case.  Having made a last minute application to suspend a warrant, we were recently instructed in a matter where the defendant owner failed in her bid to delay the inevitable, her application being dismissed by the court at hearing and the eviction date remained in the bailiff’s diary for execution.

Although I have been involved in many actions ultimately resulting in eviction taking place, my contribution to the process has always thus far been from behind my office desk.   Having been given the chance to observe at first hand, I was pleased to accept.    

Attending with the County Court bailiff and locksmith as scheduled early before 9:00 am on the due date, I am pleased to say that the eviction went very smoothly, all occupants having left the previous day.

However, I have been reminded again that evictions do not always go as easily as this one did.   Over the years I have encountered a myriad of surprises and complications on eviction day ranging from minors left alone in the property, to drug dens to prostitution rackets uncovered.  In an ideal world we would know who is in occupation of the property, even before commencement of proceedings; however that is not always easily determined.

The bailiff will want to ensure that those who have been served with the warrant have been given adequate notice and have properly understood it.  Evictions are routinely postponed if the occupants cannot read or do not understand English, and have remained unaware of the implications of the document received.

Even where the property has been vacated prior to the eviction date, problems can occur in gaining access to the property or even identifying the property.  If the property is leasehold there is likely to be a communal door to get through in order to reach the property.   As the locksmith is unable to change locks denying entry to other flat owners to their properties, unless the claimant has made adequate provision to obtain a communal door key from the freeholder or managing agent prior to the eviction date, it  may need to be rescheduled to a date when full access can be granted.    

Flats can cause particular problems if not easily identified from the postal address or the address on given on the Property Register.  This can be overcome by ensuring those attending are provided with a copy of the title plan and lease plan, the plan within the lease identifying the position of the flat within the block.  This is especially useful when flats are numbered on the documentation and lettered on the doors, for example;

Whist it is certainly possible to pre-empt certain potential difficulties, there are always going to be unforeseen circumstances which cannot be anticipated or planned for.   For this reason, where possible, a pre-eviction visit to the address can often help the Claimant to be better prepared, and may even lead to a last minute resolution.

This article was written by: Donna Hensman, Legal Executive in the Credit Solutions team at Judge & Priestley LLP.

The Defended Litigation team at Judge & Priestly provides this service to its clients.  If you would like to speak with a member of the team on who we can advise you, please contact Rachel Addai on 020 8290 7356.

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