Who pays court costs for an eviction in the UK?

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When it comes to the process of evicting a tenant, there are a number of costs involved and one of the biggest ones being the cost of eviction. This naturally presents the question, who pays court costs for an eviction? This article plans to answer just that.

From issuing an N215 which is part of the tenant act of 1954 to bringing a tenant to court to additional legal expenses, the cost of eviction can add up quickly. 

But who is responsible for paying these costs? The answer is not always straightforward and can depend on a variety of factors that we’ll discuss in this article. 

So, whether you are a landlord looking to evict a tenant or a tenant facing the prospect of eviction, understanding who pays for eviction costs is crucial for navigating the process.

Download an eviction notice template

Depending on if you want to evict a tenant because they have breached their tenancy agreement under a section 8 or if you want to evict a tenant under a “no fault” eviction. Download the relevant template below.

Download section 21 eviction notice

Section 8 form

Download section 8 eviction notice

Section 21 form

Who pays for the court costs associated with eviction?

The payment of court costs for an eviction in the UK is paid by the landlord or the tenant, it varies depending on the specific case.

Typically, landlords are responsible for covering their own court costs and legal fees. However, in certain situations, the tenant may be required to pay a portion or all of these costs.

These instances can include:

  • The presence of a clause in the tenancy agreement which states tenants must pay court costs under certain circumstances
  • If the tenant caused the landlord to have to pay additional costs through their actions
  • If a possession order is granted by a judge in order for a tenant to be evicted from the premises of the landlord

In cases where this isn’t the case and the landlord must pay the court costs for an eviction, they would have to then 

It’s worth noting that if a tenant is found to have caused significant damage to the property, or to have breached the terms of the tenancy agreement in a way that has caused the landlord financial loss,

The landlord may be able to claim compensation for these losses through landlord insurance

It is therefore important for landlords to consider their options if they were to have to evict someone before they find a tenant as paying court costs for an eviction can be a difficult process. 

Who pays court costs after a section 21?

It depends on the eviction case but section 21 happens as a result.

In the same way, it depends on the eviction case. Nonetheless, Section 21 notices are considered simpler forms of eviction notices because they do not require the landlord to provide a specific reason for the eviction. 

It can be as simple as giving in a notice to the tenant that the landlord wishes to retake possession of the property at the end of the tenancy agreement or in a break clause in the tenancy. 

Unlike Section 8 notices, there is no need for the landlord to prove a specific cause for the eviction and this means it is less likely the reason for eviction will be contested by a tenant.

After receiving the notice, tenants usually make plans to move to alternative accommodation before the end of the notice period. If this does not happen, you will need to go to court for a possession order and a warrant for eviction.

Only in cases like this are there court costs and the possibility for the tenant to be held liable for fees.

Having said this, a landlord has to be sure they comply with all of the terms of the tenancy agreement before they evict a tenant under section 21 because if it is found their building is unsafe for example.

The tenant would have the right to contest this decision.

A landlord evicting a tenant with court costs

Who pays court costs after a section 8?

Section 8 notices are typically used when there is a specific issue with the tenancy, such as rent arrears, illegal use of the property, or violation of the terms of the tenancy agreement.

Issuing a Section 8 notice does not automatically result in the eviction of the tenant if the reasons for eviction aren’t mandatory.

As a result, for non-mandatory reasons for eviction under section 8, court costs are likely to occur and then these costs are often subject to the landlord.

It initiates a court process where the judge will consider the reasons for eviction and any defences presented by the tenant. Landlords can also seek recovery of unpaid rent as part of the same claim.

Can landlords start court action and avoid paying court costs?

No matter who starts the court proceedings, the outcome of the court hearing will decide who pays court costs for an eviction.

For example, if a landlord evicts a tenant under section 8 or 21 and they do it with reasonable notice and under reasonable grounds, there is a good chance the tenant will have to pay back court costs.

On the other hand, if a landlord starts the court action and they are found to be in breach of their tenancy agreement with the tenant or they do not have sufficient evidence, then the court costs may well have to be paid by the landlord regardless if they have landlord insurance.

What do the court fees for evicting a tenant involve?

Court fees for evicting a tenant involve a range of things and they cost so much because they underestimate how much you have to pay for court costs in an eviction.

They include:

  • Paying a solicitor or lawyer
  • Possession order 
  • Serving notice
  • Bailiff fees

It is not all of the time that all four of these charges are necessary and depending on the court that you go to the amount that does have to be paid can vary.

Typically, a high court eviction will cost more than a county court or small claims court will.

How much is a court order for eviction?

Court order costs may vary depending on the court that you go to. However, a typical small claims court will charge around £200.

However, if a landlord or a tenant decides to have a solicitor or an eviction specialist to help represent them, their cost can get significantly more as eviction specialists can charge up to £3,000.

To demonstrate this difference in price between a country court and a high court, check out the table below.

The legal process of court costs

Table of eviction costs for county court and high court

Average costs of an eviction
County court eviction High court eviction
Serving notice £99 Serving notice £99
Possession order £883 Possession order £883
Enforcement agent £348 Enforcement agent £1,219
Total £1,330 Total £2,200

Can landlords claim court costs from tenants?

If the landlord is subject to the court costs and it is determined they have to pay, there are instances where they may still be able to transfer these costs to the tenant.

For example, there are administrative costs that can be claimed. This can only be transferred to a tenant in a small amount as of changes in 2017 and they too must be finalised before the court case is over.

How do landlords recover court costs from tenants?

For a landlord to recover court costs, they would have to go to the court either within their initial court case for eviction or on a separate occasion and prove to the court that the tenant had unreasonable conduct in the process of eviction that gave the landlord additional fees.

The judge will then choose to give the landlord the costs back, paid for by the tenant.

These are known as administrative costs based on their perception of how much the landlord has been detrimental financially and how intentional and in breach of the tenancy agreement the behaviour of the tenant was.

How can landlords claim from a tenant’s deposit?

Landlords can claim from a tenant’s deposit by going to the tenancy deposit scheme that the tenant’s deposit is registered with.

A landlord can use this to cover the costs associated with evictions as they are protected with tenancy deposit schemes only if they can prove the tenant has done something wrong. This means landlords, nor tenants can unfairly claim money from a deposit.

In order for any money to be paid, a landlord will have to give the right evidence to the deposit scheme that a tenant has caused enough financial damage to reasonably make a good claim at keeping their deposit.

For example, if a tenant has rent arrears when the tenant was evicted, as well as potentially being able to get the tenant to pay court fees, a landlord will also be able to keep the tenant’s deposit to cover their rent arrears.

In this sense, a deposit can serve as a secondary form of insurance for landlords so they don’t lose a lot of money during the eviction process to difficult tenants.

What help with legal costs can a landlord apply for?

Aside from going through court and tenancy deposits, a landlord can also take out legal insurance, a type of landlord insurance. In addition to this, insurance like rent guarantee insurance can help landlords who have tenants who aren’t paying rent on time.

Aside from these insurance options, a landlord can apply for help from the government by meeting a certain set of requirements you can find on the government website here.

They state a landlord has to:

  • Have a fee between £1,000 – £10,000
  • Be over 61 and have £16,000 or less in savings
  • Be on benefits or low income
A landlord asking for help about court costs

How can tenant referencing help landlords avoid eviction court costs?

In order to avoid eviction courts costs, consider tenant referencing correctly and make sure reputable letting agents are doing the referencing to avoid eviction completely.

At Lofti, we understand the inconvenience and trouble involved with bringing a tenant to court for an eviction and the costs that can rack up if you don’t have the right legal team and preparation in advance.

This is why we have designed our tenant referencing system to be the best in the business.

We are so confident that our referencing system qualifies you for rent guarantee insurance.

Sign up below to test out our platform for up to five tenancies for free.

How Lofti helps with tenant onboarding

Not only is the tenant referencing process a thorough one, but we streamline and automate the process of finding new tenants to begin with so the process of making sure tenants are fit for your property doesn’t come with extra work.

Automate leads through platforms like rightmove and use our assured shorthold tenancy templates to make sure you’re able to get set up quickly. Again, you can do this completely for free with the fist five tenancies you create with us.

To conclude

In conclusion, whether you have to pay court costs for an eviction generally depends on if the court grants you permission to receive your money back from a tenant.

You would have to be following the terms of your tenancy agreement in order to maximise your chances of keeping as much money as possible. 

For example, if you issued a section 3 in the wrong way as a landlord or you didn’t have a compliant CP12 certificate, you may lose your right in this sense.

So make sure you’re familiar with what you provide as a landlord including the documents that must be given to a tenant at the start of a tenancy.

It is important to look into every case of eviction individually as it depends on the court case.

In addition, whether bailiffs are used, what court is used in the trial or if a landlord wants to hire a solicitor are all factors in determining if a landlord should have to pay court costs or not.

FAQ

Do I have to pay if my landlord takes me to court?

If your landlord takes you to court, you may not have to pay their legal costs unless the court orders you to do so. This is often the case if you win your case

How much does it cost a landlord to take a tenant to court UK?

The cost for a landlord to take a tenant to court in the UK can vary widely depending on factors like the type of case, legal fees, and court costs

How do I evict a tenant without going to court?

In order to evict a tenant without going to court, follow the correct eviction procedure by making sure you give the right notice to end the tenancy and you issue the right documents at the end of the tenancy

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andreas gerazis

Andreas Gerazis

Experienced landlord

Andreas is a certified landlord with extensive knowledge about the UK property market as he has been actively investing for half a decade. Founder of the first three-in-one property management software, Lofti Proptech, Andreas has a brilliant understanding of the details surrounding what it takes to grow and run a thriving property portfolio.

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