We had a query for our Blog Clinic lately from Mary, who’s a tenant in England.
Mary is a social tenant, and her query (which I’m not going to reply in full as we don’t cowl social housing right here) was about her native Council, which had found that she owed £1,800 from a earlier tackle.
On account of this, they had been refusing to permit her onto the Native Authority’s ‘alternative housing register’ to bid for a much bigger property.
She went on to say:
My companion has been shopping the web and located beneath British regulation, the Limitation Act of 1980. This says that any council or landlord in the UK can solely pursue lease arrears for a most interval of six years. So, due to this fact it must be written off by regulation, and any cash paid by me must be paid again as they’re breaking British regulation.
So, let’s check out the Limitation Act and see if she is correct.
The Limitation Act 1980
That is an act that mainly units limits on the time interval when a creditor can carry proceedings in opposition to a debtor by way of the courts.
There are completely different deadlines for several types of declare, however lease arrears is roofed by section 19 which says:
Time restrict for actions to recuperate lease.
No motion shall be introduced, and the facility conferred by part 72(1) of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 shall not be exercisable, to recuperate arrears of lease, or damages in respect of arrears of lease, after the expiration of six years from the date on which the arrears turned due.
So Mary’s companion is appropriate partially. Nonetheless, the Limitation Act is all about deadlines for bringing court docket proceedings. The phrases ‘no motion shall be introduced’ means court docket motion.
The interpretation part of the act, part 38, describes ‘motion’ as follows:
(1) On this Act, until the context in any other case requires—
“motion” consists of any continuing in a court docket of regulation, together with an ecclesiastical court docket(and see subsection (11) beneath);
(11) References on this Act to an motion don’t embody any methodology of restoration of a sum recoverable beneath—
(a) Half 3 of the Social Safety Administration Act 1992,
(b) part 127(c) of the Social Safety Contributions and Advantages Act 1992, or
(c) Half 1 of the Tax Credit Act 2002,
aside from a continuing in a court docket of regulation.
So, I’m afraid Mary is inaccurate in saying that any cash paid by her must be paid again. The cash continues to be owed, though the creditor has misplaced his probability of claiming it by way of the Courts.
For instance, as far as I’m conscious (and do submit a remark if I’m incorrect, profit points usually are not my ‘space’), it might be authorized for the Council to withhold profit funds till the £1,800 is cleared. Offsetting just isn’t the identical as bringing an ‘motion’ or court docket proceedings.
That is additionally why in the event you owe cash to a financial institution, they will switch cash from every other account you will have with them, which is in credit score, to cowl it.
So, I think that the Council are appearing legally after they refuse to permit her onto the housing register. There could be guidelines about eligibility, which embody long-standing lease arrears due in respect of an earlier property.
When does the limitation interval begin?
There may be additionally the truth that the limitation interval could begin lots later than you suppose. In the event you owe (for instance) £6,000 relationship again seven years, however 5 years in the past, you confirmed in an e-mail that you simply owed this cash, the limitation interval will run from the date of the e-mail, not the date that the debt fell due.
Or, in the event you paid £200 off the debt 4 years in the past, the limitation interval will run from the date of cost. Word that the cost could be made by anybody, together with by a debt administration firm or recommendation company appearing in your behalf.
So, in brief, the limitation interval runs from the final time you acknowledged or paid a part of the debt.
Nonetheless, the next don’t rely as written acknowledgement of a debt:
- A letter from you to the creditor clearly stating you don’t owe the debt
- A letter from the creditor to you
- Talking to a creditor over the telephone
It’s generally fairly tough to work out when a limitation interval begins so if you’re undecided, it’s best to take legal advice.
The state of affairs in Scotland
Lastly, my analysis has informed me that the state of affairs is completely different in Scotland.
Right here, the limitation interval is often 5 years, and after that point, the debt turns into prescribed. As soon as a debt is prescribed, the regulation says it now not exists, so there’s nothing extra the creditor can do to gather it.
So, if Mary lived in Scotland, her query can be largely appropriate. Sadly (for her), although, she lives in England.