If you are a player in the flatshare business, you will definitely get to know and understand the UK Judicial system. Civil and housing matters can easily become criminal and vice versa. It all depends on the interpretation of the legislation for shared accommodation, which is often vague. In my earlier days in the industry, flat-sharing and subletting were considered quasi-criminal operations, even though we were simply renting out rooms. As a result, we became well-versed in the judicial system, handling disputes with the magistrate court regarding council tax, unfinished payments, and unlawful eviction claims.
In this industry, we have seen it all. From tenants moving friends into empty rooms to trespassers. There have been dodgy tenants, who offer bribes for unlawful evictions so they can go to the council and ask for free housing. Council workers telling tenants not to pay, because “nothing will happen to them”. Disputes ranging from faulty boilers to health and safety issues. We’ve had tenants leave voluntarily, only to claim that they were unlawfully evicted, apparently not realising that leaving the property actually meant leaving the property for real. Landlords locking us out of the property, thinking that it is a viable solution to a leak. In this last instance, the dispute was over a leak caused by their faulty system and we were awarded £40,000 for the damages and legal costs as a result.
My team and I have gotten to know the judicial system well over the last few years. We've been summoned to the magistrate court numerous times and have used various solicitors, law firms, and defence strategies to deal with these disputes. We have won case after case. We’ve also worked with the police on more serious matters where tenets have helped to confiscate drugs from their landlords, resulting in over 500 crime reports. At this stage, are well-known by the police as a drug confiscation machine.
The UK judicial system can be complex and challenging to navigate in the flatshare business. However, with experience and the right legal representation, it is possible to handle disputes successfully.
I remember being summoned to court for the first time - it was for unpaid council tax. I attended in a suit and tie, thinking I would have a formal and proper court hearing. To my surprise, I found out that the court had summoned me and 200 other people, hoping that anyone would show up. I did show up, and I learned a valuable lesson.
For more on lessons learned in the UK judicial system, check out the next post.