One of the leading eviction specialists is calling for unregulated companies offering similar services to sign up to redress schemes in a bid to clean up the industry.
As the private rented sector has grown so too has the eviction industry, and with it, the number of unregulated eviction firms cutting corners and not using legally qualified personnel to facilitate the process correctly.
Landlord Action gives the example of one landlord, Ms Romeena Hadwal, who found herself in a dispute with an eviction company she discovered on the internet and went on to instruct.
“I found a company on the internet which was offering what appeared to be a very good deal - £99 to get started and a money-back guarantee. I spoke to them on the phone, they seemed perfectly legitimate, explained the process to me, took payment and filed notice, which my tenant received” she says.
“However, problems started when it transpired they had put the wrong address on the court forms, which delayed the entire process. Under the impression it had been resolved, the case went to court, but four weeks after the hearing, I was told I was unable to apply for the N325 ‘Request for Warrant of Possession’ because the address was still incorrect. I wish I had gone to a regulated law firm” adds Hadwal.
Commenting on unregulated eviction firms, David Smith - partner and head of operations at Anthony Gold Solicitors - says: “Unregulated providers of advice to landlords look like a good deal at first blush. However, they can provide advice which is misleading or plain wrong and the lack of insurance or a complaints process leaves landlords with nowhere to turn when things go wrong. A robust complaints mechanism is a key component of giving landlords confidence in the reliability of such services.”
Now Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, says that as other unregulated operators have entered the market so he is finding more landlords facing problems.
“To improve standards and provide a better service, we acquired status as an Alternative Business Structure in landlord and tenant law, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This means if a landlord has a complaint, they can report it. But not all companies are regulated, so landlords have nowhere to turn if they have a complaint, and this needs to change. Belonging to a redress scheme would be the first step to making improvements and ensuring consumer confidence” says Shamplina.