Author Topic: Help re an eviction notice while abroad  (Read 1713 times)

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PeacefulWarrior

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Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« on: October 25, 2023, 03:01:00 pm »
Hello everyone. I have received a 2 weeks notice of eviction from the court, specifying a time and date when the bailiff will come around with a representative of the landlord: 03.112023 at 10AM. The property should be vacated by that point, it says.  The problem I have is that I am away in Europe with my wife, attending to some her mom's health problems. In the property at the moment are our 2 children, 15 yo son and 18 yo daughter. Our return flight is on the 13th of Nov and it seems that my only option is to fill in a N244 and ask the court for a postponement. Has anyone been confronted with a similar situation(very unlikely) or has any helpful advice in the matter? Any help would be much appreciated.

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DancingDad

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2023, 03:32:26 pm »
My immediate thought is talk to landlord and arrange a stay with them.
Whether or not that will work depends a lot on what has brought this situation about.

Otherwise only the court can order a stay but I am not sure if an N244 is the right mechanism.
Someone with more knowledge then I will have to comment on that.

guest46

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2023, 05:37:43 pm »
Without knowing what's gone before in terms of comms with you and/or what prompted the eviction, it's hard to say?

What's the story? There won't be an eviction notice or only 2 weeks out of the blue...at least not a valid one!
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guest111

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2023, 10:37:33 pm »
If the eviction notice is from the court and bailiffs have already been instructed, you must have already had a court hearing.

Did you attend the hearing? 

Are you in rent arrears and if so how much in terms of months or weeks of rent?

What section did your landlord use to apply for the eviction? S21 or S8 - and if S8, what grounds?

You can use the N244 form to request a stay only if your landlord used a section 21, or a section 8 with grounds 9 to 17. 

However, if your landlord used S8 with ground 8, you cannot use the N244 form to stop the eviction, even if you clear the arrears of rent.  If your landlord had used ground 8, you could have stopped the eviction if you had reduced the arrears to less than two months in total by the date of the hearing.  But if you did not do so at the time, you cannot prevent it now.

Without more information it's really not possible to give you better advice. 

Be aware that if the eviction goes ahead, your 15 year old son may come to the attention of social services who will be obliged to house them, but your 18 year old daughter will be homeless with nobody obliged to house them.  Whilst I recognise that you may not want to leave your wife alone in Europe, it may be that you would be better advised to return to the UK to deal with this.

You are still responsible for the accumulated rent (and bills, if not included in the rent) until the day of the eviction. 
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PeacefulWarrior

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2023, 12:10:13 pm »
Hi and thank you for the replies and help. The notice came after a S21 was served. There was a trial and I had to represent myself, since the legal aid did not cover the actual trial, just the preparation of the case preliminary to the trial. I did not have enough time to prepare for the trial, only 6 days. I received the skeleton argument one day before the trial and the trial bundle from the opposing party arrived at the house after the hearing. The judge awarded the case to the opposing party. My legal team was pretty bad and did not identify faults with the S21, which were:

1. No EPC was given when we signed the contract
2. The prescribed information was given to us 3 years after the deposit had been put in the deposit scheme. 

Studying the legalities and learning more about the case myself, I discovered that, but after the trial. As I have said, our legal aid funded paralegal was not worth her salt. I looked at the bundles presented by both our legal team and the landlords and found numerous mistakes that would have thrown the case out had I known about them at the time.

We have tried to talk with the landlord, who owes me some money for materials and  refurbishments done at the property, but he is not being very upfront. The notice of eviction came out of the blue, 3 months after the trial.

The issue is that the notice of eviction came while we had already gone to Europe. It's not as if we have received and decided to go away regardless. I was hoping that it would make sense to have it postponed with the help of the N244 until our return, once the judge understands the situation. The landlord had about 3 months to act, yet he decided to do it now, with no prior communication or warning.

At the moment, there is no actual contract in place, as the last yearly contract signed and agreed upon was back in 2021.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2023, 12:18:29 pm by PeacefulWarrior »

guest46

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2023, 02:46:11 pm »
There was no 'trial' merely a hearing which it seems ruled in favour of the LL. Whether an EPC was provided and its relevance may be to do with time....but they're freely available online anyway and have been for several years. If the deposit is protected, it's protected - memory fades, but the requirement for both to be provided is a fairly recent 'thing' and not 3+ years back?

As Rosywillow, it doesn't need both of you to assist overseas, but it does need one of you to participate back here so the way forward is clear. I'd not leave a 15 y/o supervised by an 18 y/o for any significant period, but that's another topic altogether. Get back here pronto.............

DancingDad

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2023, 03:38:46 pm »
I tend to agree that getting on a plane seems best (and maybe only) option.

While two weeks notice may seem short, notice was actually given 3 months ago when the hearing ordered you to vacate.
I believe the normal time period to vacate when a possession order is granted is 2 weeks so it would seem that either you managed somehow to get the court to agree to far longer then normal or the landlord applied for a warrant to be granted so they could instruct bailiffs to evict.

guest111

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2023, 08:09:07 pm »
Once your fixed term expired you were on a periodic (month to month) tenancy.

Your landlord does not need a reason to give you a S21, and as long as you eventually got the EPC and the prescribed information about the deposit protection, that wouldn't have been enough to defeat the S21.  But you can't revisit that now, it's a done deal.

Once the S21 was granted at the hearing (not a trial), you knew you had to leave so it didn't come out of the blue.  You were ordered to leave three months ago.  As you did not leave, your landlord is entitled to return to court to get a warrant of possession and instruct bailiffs to gain possession of the property. 

You could use a N244 to apply to set the warrant of possession aside but it's not guaranteed that you will prevail. If you do use a N244 you will need to attend the hearing (or send representation), but there's a time limit which from memory is a minimum of three days before the bailiffs are due to arrive.

The issue of leaving your children alone for an extended period of time is a matter for you and/or social services, but my advice for one of you to get back to the UK immediately still stands.

What do you think you can say on the N244 that would lead a judge to agree to suspend the warrant of possession?





guest111

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2023, 09:24:24 pm »
PeacefulWarrior, if you intend to apply for a stay using an N244 (though it isn't guaranteed that you would succeed in this application), you will need to submit the N244 and pay the fee/apply for fee remission before close of business on 31/10/2023 - tomorrow as I type this. 

I hope you are already back in the UK; I am concerned that your children will be made homeless on Friday.


PeacefulWarrior

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2023, 04:50:17 pm »
Hi again. Sorry about not replying earlier, I was pretty busy dealing with things. Thank you for the input and concern.

I have submitted the N244 today, 31.10.2023, explaining to the judge that the notice has arrived whilst we were away and we need a few more days to return and deal with it in person. I explained that my wife is suffering from and has been diagnosed with clinical mental depression and anxiety and can't deal with things without my supervision. I would have returned on my own, but she can't cope with things on her own, let alone dealing with 2 elderly relatives, hospital visits 60km away to the capital, etc.

I have researched the law online and according to gov.uk, bailiffs cannot force entry to a private property, nor are they allowed to enter when only a minor under 16 is present:

https://www.gov.uk/your-rights-bailiffs

I also emailed the person who is supposed to come, namely Jonathan Chatfield, asking him kindly to consider postponing the visit until we return to London, on the 11.11.2023. He replied saying that the reference sent to him does not apply to high court enforcement officers, only to bailiffs. Yet the reference does not make a distinction between bailiffs, only between county court and high court officers, calling them both 'bailiffs'. And is is quite specific about neither being allowed to force entry, unless we are talking about squatters or commercial premises, criminal fines or HMRC taxes. And even those as a last resort. None of those apply in our case.

What's even more concerning, a search for Jonathan Chatfield on High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) came up empty. The guy claims to be an HCEO, yet he is not registered with them? An impersonator, a fraud? Digging a bit deeper and found him here: Marston (Holdings) Limited. Jon headed the London office until October 2020. He then went Equivo LTD, where he is now managing director of the enforcement division. He claims both on Linkedin and Equivo that he is a student member of the HCEO's association. Again, he is not on their database.

I emailed him back, asking him to tell me where exactly I can find evidence for his claim: 'We must point out though that the article you quoted relates to bailiffs who are collecting civil debts and not when enforcing a High Court Writ of Possession.  As High Court Enforcement Officers we may force an entry and have any occupiers removed.'

His statement is both incriminating and problematic for him, as he seems to have tried to intimidate us by misrepresentation of his powers as a HCEO. While he is not even one!?

According to my research and the UK Law, nobody is allowed to enter a premise where a minor under 16 is living. Be they who they may. NOBODY. I would like to see him try, as I have instructed 2 friends to position themselves in front of the property and take video evidence of the proceedings. I also instructed my son to lock the door and not open to anyone, under any circumstances, as advised by a lawyer. He is a strong lad and I would pity anyone trying to break in and try to touch him, as in forcible entry and removal. I hope it won't come down to self defense, we are in the UK aftercall. At the first sign of forced entry, he is to call 999 immediately, while recording the whole time.

Another site that backs my research: https://www.realbusinessrescue.co.uk/company-insolvency/what-is-a-high-court-enforcement-officer-and-what-rights-do-they-have

What rights do High Court Enforcement Officers have?
Although HCEOs cannot force entry into your home unless you have granted access on a previous occasion, they do have right of entry to your business premises as long as there is no residential element to the building.

You should receive prior warning of an HCEO visit, and they must ensure the premises are properly secured before they leave. High Court Enforcement Officers operate under strict legislation, however, and the national standards for Taking Control of Goods state,

ďEnforcement agents must not be deceitful by misrepresenting their powers, qualifications, capacities, experience or abilities ÖĒ

This is an important point when enforcement action is being taken. You also need to know your own rights in the situation, and itís helpful to obtain professional advice in this respect. So which goods and possessions can be taken from your business premises by High Court Enforcement Officers under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations, 2013?

As I have said, I have emailed Jonathan Chatfield and asked the so called HCEO that does not appear to be one to tell me what kind of force is he planning to use when reaching the house. Also, what plan he has in mind when it comes to making good on his 'we will remove anyone living there'. I am eagerly waiting for his reply and will let you know what he has to say.

guest46

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2023, 07:35:37 pm »
This isn't going to end well............

cp8759

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2023, 10:03:28 pm »
This isn't going to end well............
I fear you might be right...
I practice law in the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, London Tribunals, the First-tier tribunal for Scotland, and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for Northern Ireland, but I am not a solicitor nor a barrister. Notwithstanding this, I voluntarily apply the cab rank rule. I am a member of the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends, my membership number is FM193.

Quote from: 'Gumph' date='Thu, 19 Jan 2023 - 10:23'
cp8759 is, indeed, a Wizard of the First Order

DancingDad

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2023, 10:42:58 pm »
Don't know where you are getting your information from but....
Bailiffs with correct warrant from County or High Court to repossess a property can break in and can use reasonable force to remove anyone within that property.
Including minors.
They have a duty of care so cannot just turf a minor onto the street without a responsible adult, normally this would mean Social Services being involved.

I think you may be confusing repossession of a property with seizure of goods to satisfy a debt.
With the latter they cannot break in or enter without invitation but they can for the first.

As for no one being able to enter with a minor present ???
Off the top of my head, Police, Customs, Gas or Electricity Officials, Fire Brigade to name a few, warrants likely to needed but not in all cases 
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PeacefulWarrior

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2023, 10:17:24 am »
I am getting my information from reputable sources, such as legislation.gov.uk and https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk.

I find it a bit disappointing when people chime in with comments like 'this isn't going to end well', while disregarding the facts and evidence. The problem is not with the writ from the court itself, but with the way it is being enforced and the people who are planning to do that.

As I have stated before, there are serious causes for concern with the person named on the writ, who claims to be someone, yet he isn't.

I think it's best to look at the facts as they stand, rather than start making assumptions and negative comments about how things may or may not end. That is matter to be seen and not speculated about. So let's keep things simple.

The situation is as follows:

1. A letter was found on the pavement on the street by our daughter, addresses to me. It contained a letter entitled Notice of eviction. The way the letter was delivered is a subject in itself, as it appears to have been done very badly and not the way it is prescribed by law. Luckily the wind did not blow it away, or else it would have never been found. But I will let that slide for now, as there are bigger problems to be dealt with.
2. Seeing as we, as parents, are not in the country and there is about a week difference between the eviction date and our return, I contacted the Authorized Person named on the in order to discuss the situation. He answered, claiming to be an HCEO. Upon searching the https://www.hceoa.org.uk, he did not appear as a member. To me, that is a serious cause for concern. I don't know how that looks to you, but to me, he is a liar and an impostor.
3. Seeing that the so called HCEO is not who he claims he is, I then filled an N244 with the court, explaining the situation and asking for a stay of the eviction until our return.
4. I emailed the so called HCEO again and asked for more details about the statements he made in the email he sent me, where he stated that he is not a bailiff, but an HCEO and has the power to force entry and remove any occupiers from the property. I specifically asked him to point out the law where he is getting that information from. I also asked him what kind of force he is planning to use: break the door down? Next, I asked him how he is going to go about removing a 15 year old from a property. By grabbing him and forcing him to go out? Is he even allowed to do that? He did not respond to my last email.
4. The notice is telling me exactly the time and date when the eviction will take place, what will happen on that date and what I can do. The person named as the Authorized Person who is supposed to come to the property is not an HCEO, as he is not on the lists of HCEO's. As such, he is just a person misrepresenting himself as an HCEO. I will deal with that and it's legal implication when I return to London. I don't think anyone in their right mind would let someone who appears to be an impostor come to his house and enter the premises. Hence my instructions to my son to immediately call the Police, should anyone by that name come to the house.

To me, what I have done so far seems to be sensible enough and not something that would lead to an 'it won't end well' kind of situation. I would also appreciate it if people could point out exact references for their statements and not just personal opinions based on preconceived ideas. They are not helpful. We are here to help each other, not sink ships.

Southpaw82

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Re: Help re an eviction notice while abroad
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2023, 11:21:35 am »
I suspect the main issue people have is that you appear to wrong as to the law. Specifically, that the bailiff/HCEO enforcing the warrant canít use force to enter the premises and canít enter when a minor is present. I canít say Iíve been concerned to look the law up but common sense would dictate that if that were so, very few people would ever be evicted.