RLA Policy Chief David Smith provides his thoughts for landlords regarding recent announcements that Court Costs for possession claims for landlords are to increase.
Back in January the coalition government as it then was held a consultation on increasing a range of court fees, including increases to fees for possession. The new conservative government has now published a response to this consultation in which it confirms that the court fee for possession matters will rise to £355, an increase of a further 26%. There is a matching increase for claims started using the online service where the fee will rise to £325.
The fee for an application for an order by consent will double to £100 while a contested application will increase by £100 to £255.
Amusingly the ministerial foreword has what I can only assume is a typing error, although it might also be seen as a Freudian slip. The foreword says:
“Our analysis of the available evidence suggests that this increase will deter anyone who would otherwise have taken their claim to court”.
Later in the document the same sentence has a crucial “not” inserted which perhaps more accurately reflects the views of the Ministry of Justice but perhaps is an accurate reflection of other people’s. It certainly appears to reflect the views of the majority of those who responded to the fee consultation. These views appear to have been discounted because they came largely from lawyers and landlords who one assumes the MoJ considers to be entirely self interested.
In addition there is a consultation on yet more fee increases which will include increases in the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). Currently fees in this chamber are £155 for an application but will rise to £100 for an application with a further £200 for a hearing. Fees relating to leasehold enfranchisement matters will be higher still.
While I accept that the Court system must be funded and fees are a key element of this it is unacceptable to have continual rounds of increasing fees. The MoJ has also chosen to ignore the fact that Court fees in possession matter almost inevitably get passed on to the person being evicted in court possession orders so they ultimately end up creating greater debt for tenants.