Landlords suffer sharp rise in legal fees

A sharp increase in court costs associated with possession claims took effect this week.

In a move that has been criticised by landlord groups, the government introduced dramatic increases in the fees landlords have to pay in order to take possession claims through the legal system.

The charge for the Possession Claim Online (PCOL) service, which can be used in the cases of claims arising from rent arrears, has seen one of the sharpest increases, rising to £250 from £100. Paper claims, meanwhile, have risen to £280 from £175.

The new fee regime, which also affects everything from money claims to divorce proceedings, was the subject of widespread criticism when it was announced. The Civil Justice Council referred to the changes as “wholly excessive” and warned of a “chilling effect” as a result of higher charges.

But the government continued with the increases stating: “Having carefully considered the comments made, the government has decided to press ahead with the change. Although it is recognised that in some instances the fee rise is high, it considers that the benefits brought by a simplified approach with a fee that reflects the average cost of issuing such proceedings justifies the change.

“Fee remissions will be available for those with low capital and income and in cases such as possession claims, it is expected that the court fees would be passed on to the debtor as part of any cost award.”

Meanwhile it was revealed last week that the number of tenants in financial difficulty has fallen by more than a third.

Read about spotting the signs of tenants in financial difficulty.

What do you think? Are the new charges fair? Will they put you off seeking possession? Let us know in the comments.