Europe’s largest local housing authority, Birmingham City Council told a Judge last week that they had tried to evict households without going through the correct court processes. We acted for one such family who were at risk of the same thing happening to them and we are encouraging those who may have been affected to see an experienced Housing Law Solicitor urgently.
CLP represented Mr M in an application brought by their landlord, Birmingham City Council, to evict him using High Court Enforcement Officers. During the course of the hearing, District Judge Salmon sitting in the Birmingham County Court was told by the barrister representing Birmingham that they had obtained possession writs against families without following the correct processes.
We had made a Freedom of Information Act request, which revealed that up to 53 bailiff appointments had been fixed. It is highly likely that people have been unlawfully evicted.
Families cannot be evicted lawfully without the correct legal processes being complied with. The City Council told District Judge Salmon that they had not complied with the correct processes. People have almost certainly been evicted because the court system has been abused by the council. Households who have lost their tenancies may be entitled to have their tenancy back. They may also be entitled to claim damages.
It appears that Birmingham City Council implemented a system of using High Court bailiffs without getting proper legal advice. Marstons Group High Court Enforcement Officers handled the applications for bailiff writs and got the procedure wrong. The use of High Court Enforcement Officers is controversial amongst lawyers acting for both landlords and tenants. They can turn up with little notice and where the processes have not been correctly followed, the tenant may not even know that they are actually going to be evicted, let alone when.
District Judge Salmon in his judgment handed down on Tuesday 10th November said “I have been alarmed by the current practice adopted by solicitors acting for Birmingham City Council in connection with the obtaining of writs of possession…I have been concerned about the deliberate policy of Birmingham City Council not to inform tenants of their ability to seek to suspend the writs of possession… I was also alarmed at the practice (albeit now stopped) of seeking to issue writs of possession in the Huddersfield District Registry.”
Please see the attached Judgment.