Landlord negligence claims against solicitors.
There has been a spate of court decisions that have gone against landlords following poor advice from their solicitors, opening the way for professional negligence claims to be brought against the lawyers.
One area causing lawyers problems arises out of the Localism Act, brought in to protect a tenant’s deposit. Within 30 days of receipt, the deposit must be placed in a designated tenant deposit scheme and a Notice containing prescribed information has to be served on the tenant. Failure to provide such a Notice or to protect the deposit means that the Landlord may have to pay a penalty of up to three times the value of the deposit. Even if the deposit is deposited outside the 30 day period, this will still cause problems for the landlord as he will not be able to repossess the property under s21 Housing Act 1988 unless he returns the deposit to the tenant before serving the Notice to quit.
In the Court of Appeal decision in Ayannuga –v- Swindells although the landlord had protected the deposit, he had failed to serve the Notice of Prescribed Information. His legal team issued court proceedings for possession of the property and tried to argue that the Notice was a mere formality, that the purpose of the Act was to protect the tenant’s deposit and it had been fully protected in this instance. The Court of Appeal disagreed, stating that the Notice was a key part of the legislation and had to be complied with. The claim was struck out and the landlord was ordered to return the deposit and pay the full penalty, plus costs.
It is clear therefore that any solicitor dealing with Landlord & Tenant law must be very careful in checking that all the paperwork has been properly prepared. If it hasn’t, the solicitor must advise the landlord to return the deposit in full before a s21 Notice can be served.
Our professional negligence solicitors have been instructed on a number of cases where solicitors have not done this, either giving poor advice about the Tenancy Deposit Scheme or, failing to check the s213 Notice.
If you are a landlord who has fallen victim to solicitors negligence and need FREE initial advice on landlord negligence claims against solicitors then contact us for a free case assessment on 0333 888 0404.