Small claims and residential leases are amongst the few legal documents that many people try and draft themselves. Over the next six months all of these will be changing, with the replacement of Assured and Short Assured Tenancies by a new single “private residential tenancy” (potentially from the end of the year) and the creation of Simple Procedure for civil court claims up to £5,000 (starting 28 November).
Though the style tenancy documents are still under consultation, it is clear that the new paperwork in both areas is designed to be used by the public without needing a solicitor. There is even to be a “Model Tenancy” so landlords will have a standard lease which should be ‘good to go’ for most situations.
As a lawyer who specialises in these areas, I may not need a new career just yet however. Easy to use and understand documents is only one issue. For tenancies, decisions are needed on the various optional clauses and what best applies to the situation. For Simple Procedure, completing the form with all the needed information may still not answer whether there is a strong legal claim or a proper defence.
Although these documents should be straightforward to fill in, once you add in that the new procedures are quite different in both areas, and that tenants have much stronger rights under the new tenancy, legal advice still needs to be considered once the changes come into effect.
This article was written by Joel Conn and appeared in the December/January edition of the Westender Magazine