Letting Agent rights of audience and initiating proceedings

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BACKGROUND

Yesterday my letting agent successfully applied for a section 8 PO on my behalf in relation to one of my properties. The claim was initiated without my authority as I was outside the UK.

If I had been asked by the letting agent before the application was issued whether I wanted to initiate PO proceedings against the tenant I would have agreed because the tenant was in significant arrears. However, due to potential costs implications, I would have used the s21 route instead.

The letting agent put its name on the claim form when it made the application and a director of the letting agent appeared in court without me and without a solicitor or any other legal representative.

The other side failed to attend the s8 hearing or to respond to the s8 application at all.

The court granted the PO.

ISSUES
I have three questions about the above:

  1. Does the the court have a discretion to determine a PO application in the absence of both a landlord and a landlord's legal representative? My understanding is that the claimant landlord has to attend court as a litigant in person or get an authorised legal representative who has a right of audience to attend the court in his absence for any s8 hearing.

Please can you clarify whether a letting agent has a right to represent a landlord in court in the absence of the landlord and the landlord's legal representative? Can letting agents have rights of audience?

My understanding is that the above scenario is a breach of s14 LSA 2007. If so, in what circumstances could I, as the Landlord, be liable in anyway for this offence?

BTW: The letting agent has advised me that it believes its actions were legal and has said it received advice on this very issue by a well known landlord advice organisation (not the RLA - the other one!, which stated that a Director of a letting agent company could represent a landlord in court if it had landlord's authority to do so.

What would have happened if the letting agent had lost in court in what circumstances could I, as the landlord, have been liable for any costs that the other side may have claimed if they had attended?

  1. I think the court may have granted the PO on the mistaken understanding that the letting agent had a legal interest in the property as the letting agent identified itself and not me as the claimant on the s8 claim form.

Can a letting agent name itself as the claimant on a s8 application form where the letting agent has no legal interest in the property other than to act as the property's authorised agent?

Why did the court not check the AST which clearly identifies that i am the landlord and that the letting agent is only the agent before issuing PO? Would it have made a difference the court had seen the AST?

  1. I have not yet seen a copy of the claim form or the written order from the court as of yet so i am not sure of the court's actual wording but if the PO has been made in favour of my letting agent and not me can either I or the letting agent proceed to apply for eviction of tenant by bailiff?

Many thanks.

17/10/2018 18:01

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