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What to take to court

This content applies to England & Wales

Documentation that should be brought to the court, and what type of documents will provide useful evidence at hearings for rent arrears, mortgage possession, and disrepair.

Before going to court, the representative should have prepared the case and filed the relevant documents with the court. Originals (or, if not available, copies) of all documents filed should be brought to the court. It is advisable to arrange all the papers for the case in a way that makes them easily accessible and to put letters in date order.

All cases

The following should be brought:

  • copies of any particulars of claim from the other parties
  • witness statements from both sides
  • copies of any transcripts from case law relied upon in the case
  • copies of any statutes relied upon
  • any other evidence required to support the case (for example, photographs)
  • a copy of the tenancy or licence agreement/mortgage agreement
  • paper and pen to take notes of the proceedings and the order made
  • a calculator (this is particularly useful in cases involving rent arrears or benefits).

The following checklists are intended to give guidance as to what evidence may be required in specific proceedings, but they are not comprehensive and advisers should therefore ensure that any additional items that may be required are also included.

Rent arrears cases

Where the client is going to court on a claim for rent arrears, it is useful for her/him to bring, where possible, the following:

  • evidence of receipt of housing benefit, or evidence that s/he has applied for housing benefit
  • rent book or receipts for rent paid
  • pay slips or, if possible, a detailed summary of the client's financial situation
  • copies of any relevant correspondence between landlord and client, particularly where proposals to repay arrears have been accepted
  • any evidence as to why arrears accrued, eg sickness certificates if unable to work
  • evidence of any counterclaim, such as photographs of disrepair or letters between landlord and tenant about the disrepair.

Mortgage possession proceedings, time orders and orders for sale

If the hearing involves a mortgage possession claim, a time order or an order for sale, it is advisable for the client to bring the following to court:

  • evidence to show receipt of help with housing costs through income support or jobseeker's allowance or a claim for these benefits
  • full breakdown of any payments made and arrears accrued
  • evidence of income
  • evidence of the value of the property (for example, a valuation)
  • if the property is for sale, evidence of the marketing of the property and, if an offer has been made, details of the potential sale
  • for time orders, it is important to demonstrate the advantages to the lender of granting the order, for example, if there is negative equity or a realistic proposal for repaying money owed
  • for orders for sale, evidence as to why the other party is being unreasonable in blocking the sale, for example, in the case of an order for sale of a property that is owned jointly, that the joint owner has left without a forwarding address or, in the case of a lender refusing to allow a sale, that its refusal is unreasonable.

Disrepair cases

Where the hearing that the client is attending involves a claim for disrepair, it is important for her/him to bring the following to court, to support her/his case:

  • evidence of the disrepair, for example photographs
  • proof that the landlord has been notified of the disrepair (if appropriate)
  • evidence of any injury to health or damage to property
  • evidence that the injury or damage to property caused was reasonably foreseeable (if appropriate)
  • expert's reports from a surveyor or environmental health officer.

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