Statistics show that 42 per cent of possession orders made in the first quarter of the year were suspended. That means that a court was convinced to give the tenant an opportunity to prove they could turn the situation around. In our experience the bulk of these cases will be cases issued at court for rent arrears.
We see at court all too often those people who didn’t know they qualified for legal aid, or that a specialised solicitor could help them with their case. We have even known the Judges to tell people where to get help from. Some of these suspended possession orders will have been made by a Judge who has listened to what the tenant has to say. Sometimes it is the first time the tenant has truly been given a voice.
For those who haven’t obtained any help with their case the prospect itself of going to court and speaking with a Judge can be totally terrifying. Too terrifying for the many that chose not to go, convinced there is nothing that can be done. What is not common knowledge is that a Judge can frequently be reassured by a payment plan to repay the rent rather than needing all of the arrears to be paid off to stop a possession order. A specialised advisor can advise you on this well before the court hearing stage. A tenant in social landlord accommodation can arrange to pay a minimum amount on a weekly basis that will be affordable.
With most household budgets tight, the effects of the bedroom tax are still discussed on a daily basis in the courts. Their task is to decide if a final opportunity should be given to keep a roof over the heads of those struggling to make ends meet.
The Ministry of Justice statistics for possession cases in England and Wales for the first quarter of this year were released on 15th May. The picture being painted that possession cases are decreasing needs to be carefully considered. The fact is that the court fee for a landlord making an application to court for possession has jumped hugely. Whilst there is an 11 per cent decrease in landlord applications to court for possession, there has been a one per cent increase in the number of people actually being evicted compared to the same period last year. What is not known is how many of that increasing number of people finding themselves on the street may have obtained a suspended order and another chance if they got help.