Less than a year ago, in April 2014, the government made a dramatic increase in the fees charged for issuing possession proceedings with increases of 60% and more. This brought the fee to £280 for traditional proceedings in the County Court and £250 for claims begun using the online PCOL service.
Not satisfied with this a further consultation has been launched in which another increase is proposed. This is on the back of the large increases in fees already announced for claims of over £10,000.
The fee for possession proceedings in the County Court is proposed to be increased by a further £75 to £355 and £325 for PCOL claims. This will represent a total increase for traditional proceedings of £180 since the start of 2014.
Many landlords, agents, and mortgage companies will be startled by this increase. It is clear that the cost of court proceedings must be paid by those who use the service but this is a significant further increase that is being place largely on one set of users who are relatively light in their use due to the fairly short hearings which are the norm for possesion matters.
Given that the government is trying to engage with the sector and encourage longer tenancies it hardly seems sensible to raise barriers to eviction of tenants who are not complying with the terms of their tenancies. Increasing costs will encourage more landlords to resort to unlawful self-help or to offer short tenancies if they perceive barriers to eviction. In addition, as tenants are usually asked to pay Court fees anyway all that is really happening is that the Government is loading debts onto tenants who are often unable to pay them. This does nothing to improve the position of vulnerable ttenants and those who are already in debt.
Hopefully, the Government will rethink the wisdom of this increase which will only generate, by the Government's own figures, a fairly modest sum of £17 million.