This week we received a call from one of our members who is new to being a letting agent.
They were hoping to help out one of their clients through the process of gaining possession. They wanted to know how far they, as an agent, can help their client in this process. As always, the Landlord Advice Team was ready and on hand to provide the necessary advice for our member.
We advised that as an agent, you can be involved with the possession process from serving a notice, up until the submission of the court forms. An agent is able to serve a section 8 or section 21 notice to the tenant on behalf of the landlord, and can assist the landlord with the completion of the relevant court forms such as the N5B or the N5 & N119.
An agent cannot however, sign the court forms on behalf of the landlord or make the application on behalf of the landlord, as the only person who can represent another person in court is a lawyer such as a solicitor or barrister.
It is useful to be aware of this fact, even for landlords who do not have an agent. Many landlords choose to complete the possession process without the help of the lawyer to avoid the costs, and due to the fact that this process can be completed with the help of the advice team and our guidance documents. This therefore means that without a solicitor, the only person who can attend a court hearing is the landlord themselves, which requires the Landlord to be available to attend the hearing.
This can create an inconvenience for the landlord, for example if they live in another country or are on holiday when the date for a hearing, a bailiff appointment or another appointment in the court process is arranged. The landlord would then be faced with either having to fly back for the hearing, or to employ a solicitor; and both of these can potentially be large costs that the landlord may not have been expecting or budgeting for.
We advised our member to go ahead and help their client with the service of the possession notice, and when the time comes they can call us back, or refer to our completion notes, to fill out the court forms. They should then make sure that at this stage they step away and let the landlord sign the documents and for the landlord to continue their application themselves.
Rupinder Aujla, LAT team manager, said “This situation often arises for both agents and for landlords, and it is important to be aware of who is able to proceed with the possession process. We are always happy to clarify a situation for our members before they go ahead and take action.”