POSSESSION ORDER: Eviction Orders for Tenants

possession order

If a landlord serves a tenant with a Section 21 notice or a Section 8 notice (if the terms of the tenancy have been broken), the tenants must evacuate the property by the end of the notice period, subject to any appeals. If they refuse to leave, you may need to seek a possession order to enforce the notice and finalise the eviction. Here we will discuss in detail the different types of possession orders like accelerated, suspended orders and court orders.

What is a Possession Order?

A possession order is a court order concerning your residence.

When your landlord wishes for you to vacate, he or she will seek a possession order.

Types of Possession Order

Possession orders are majorly classified into two types:

  1. An outright order
  2. A suspended order

A judge issues a possession order, generally during a possession hearing.

If your landlord uses the accelerated section 21 procedure, there may be no need for a hearing unless the judge believes it is necessary.

#1. Outright Possession Order

An outright order specifies a date for your departure. This is normally two weeks after the order is placed.

If the notification is legitimate, the court must issue an outright eviction order under Section 21. The majority of private landlords use this eviction procedure.

If you are being evicted for lawful reasons, the court may issue an outright order. As an example:

  • arrears on rent
  • unsociable behaviour

If leaving earlier will cause you hardship, you can seek the court’s permission to extend the possession date on an outright order for up to 6 weeks. For instance, if you are ill or have little children.

#2. Suspended Possession Order

A suspended possession order permits you to remain in your house as long as certain requirements are met.

These conditions are explained in chronological order. For example, you may be advised to pay whatever rent you owe on a weekly basis or not to bother your neighbours any longer.

Other Types of Possession Orders

#1. Standard Possession Order

Landlords who owe rent arrears can usually reclaim a property via the online possession claim tool. The online service is available in both England and Wales. It cannot be employed if there has been trespass (squatting) on the land or if tenants have violated the lease conditions. If the online service is unavailable, landlords should complete Form N5 and mail it to the appropriate municipal court (see GOV.UK for further information). The Welsh versions of the necessary forms are also available on the government website for use in Wales.

#2. Accelerated Possession Order

Landlords can apply for an accelerated possession order if rent arrears are not claimed and tenants have failed to leave at the end of a lawful Section 21 notice period. Form N5B must be completed and submitted to the appropriate local court (see GOV.UK for further information). Tenants will have 14 days to file an objection to the application, after which a judge will either issue a possession order or determine whether to schedule a court hearing.

Court Orders

If the case is heard in court, the judge has the authority to make the following decisions:

  • the lawsuit should be dismissed
  • reschedule the hearing

Tenants must vacate the premises on the date specified in the order if an outright possession order is issued (either 14 or 28 days after the court hearing). If they do not leave by this date, the court may issue a warrant for their possession.

  • Suspended possession order – this allows the renters to remain in the property under specified circumstances (eg making regular payments)
  • Money order – tenants must make a specified sum, or bailiffs will be dispatched.
  • Possession orders with a money judgment—this is typically a fixed amount that tenants must pay as part of a suspended order for possession (see GOV.UK for more information).

Possession hearings and court orders can be challenged if it can be demonstrated that the judge erred. Normally, if permission to appeal is granted, a court fee must be paid.

The use of bailiffs

If tenants do not vacate the property by the date specified in a possession order, a landlord may apply to the court for a warrant of possession. Fees must be paid, and Form N325 must be filed. For properties in Wales, there is a Welsh version of this form. Once issued, the warrant of possession will specify a time and date for eviction, at which point bailiffs will be dispatched to carry out the eviction. High Court enforcement is an alternate way.

What is High Court enforcement?

Landlords can request to transfer a county court possession order to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). Although enforcement is normally speedier, there is a process in which you will need to acquire a ‘certificate of judgement’ from the County Court, which validates the amount you are entitled to in your judgement.

If you want to execute the paperwork yourself, you must request this certificate on Court Form N293a, which is a combined certificate of judgement for the purpose of enforcing the judgement via a Writ of Control.

How to Postpone an Eviction

Tenants can postpone an eviction by asking a judge to ‘suspend a warrant for possession,’ which results in a fresh hearing. The judge may decide to postpone the eviction or allow tenants to stay in the property if they make payments. Tenants who want to suspend a possession warrant should fill out Form N244 and request a hearing as soon as possible (before the eviction date). A court charge may be required.

Tenants who want to postpone their eviction should consult with a lawyer.

Harassment and Illegal Evictions

Tenants who have been harassed by their landlords in connection with an eviction, or when the landlord has not followed the proper processes, may be able to seek restitution. Harassment can include the following:

  • Tenants’ keys are being withheld
  • The landlord’s failure to make repairs to the property
  • Threats or physical violence
  • Antisocial behaviour practises
  • Shutting off utilities (eg cutting off electricity to the property)
  • Replacing the door locks

Landlords who fail to offer adequate notice, replace the locks, or evict tenants without a court order may be held guilty of illegal eviction.

When it is possible for you to be evicted?

If you do any of the following, your landlord may seek bailiffs:

  • Stay past the expiration date on an outright order
  • Violate the terms of a suspended order

The bailiffs must notify you of the eviction date at least two weeks in advance.

Normally, this is only allowed if your landlord uses discretionary grounds.

If a landlord follows the Section 21 process, the court normally cannot stop the eviction.

Is a Possession Order the same as a CCJ?

A possession order is not the same as a county court ruling (CCJ). Eviction will not automatically harm your credit rating.

If you are in arrears on your rent, your landlord may get a money judgement or money order when they apply to evict you or after you have left.

A money order is a type of CCJ. It will appear on your credit report and may have an impact on your credit rating.

Changing the Possession Order

If a possession order is issued, it may be possible to apply to have the order rescinded, the terms of the order altered, or the possession order’s date postponed.

If your circumstances have altered as a result of Coronavirus, the court must take this into consideration while considering your application.
For example, if you are no longer able to comply with the terms of a suspended possession order, you must apply to change the payment terms.

When it is impossible to change a Possession Order

A court normally cannot amend a possession order if you are:

  • Your landlord employed the ‘section 21—no fault’ method since you were an assured shorthold tenant.
  • A dependable tenant and your landlord have invoked a necessary reason for possession
  • a council renter on an initial or degraded tenancy

If your landlord did not follow the proper procedure and the court made the possession order in error, you may be able to appeal the decision.

Cancellation of a Possession Order

If you did not attend the court hearing and argue that the order should not have been made, you may be able to seek the court to cancel or ‘set aside’ the possession order.

When evaluating whether to vacate a possession order, the court considers whether you:

  • Acted swiftly after learning of the possession order
  • and had a valid reason for not attending the court hearing
  • If you had attended the court hearing, you would have had a good chance of winning.

The court normally considers any other relevant issues before deciding whether it is fair and just to revoke the order.

If a possession order is overturned, the court may order that the case be reheard.

Modification of the Terms of a Possession Order

Possession orders are frequently suspended on the condition that you adhere to an arrangement, such as repaying rent arrears in weekly installments.

In certain circumstances, you can seek the court’s modification to modify the terms of a suspended possession order, such as if your finances have changed, making it difficult to repay the sum originally agreed upon.

Inform the court if changes in your circumstances have impacted your capacity to follow through on the agreement. The court will not automatically agree, and it will be less inclined to agree if you have not followed through on earlier agreements.

If an outright possession order was issued on a discretionary basis, you may petition the court to convert it to a suspended possession order.

Can I change the eviction date?

If the possession order cannot be overturned, the court may be able to postpone the eviction date. Only if you have a specific sort of tenancy can the court do this. For further information, contact a consultant.

If you would incur undue hardship if you had to leave the property within 14 days, the court can postpone the eviction date for up to six weeks. Exceptional hardship may occur if the home includes elderly or young people or if a family member has a handicap or health difficulties. The court may exercise this authority in any matter requiring a possession order.

Submitting a Court Application

To alter a possession order, you must file an application with the court where the order was issued.

To make the application, use court form N244 and provide copies of any supporting documents.

You must pay a fee to submit your application. If you receive specific benefits or have a low income, you can request an exemption or a reduced price.

An adviser or solicitor can assist you in completing the court papers and preparing a witness statement to offer evidence as to why the order should be altered.

Possession Order FAQ’s

How long does it take for bailiffs to evict?

Bailiffs are required to give you two weeks’ notice of an eviction date. The eviction notice will be sent to anyone identified on the court order as well as ‘any other occupiers.’ It will be delivered in a sealed clear envelope and should be posted through your letterbox or attached to your front door.

How long does it take to evict a tenant UK?

However, based on our experience, the typical time to evict a tenant is roughly 6 weeks from the date of the eviction order. It can be quicker in certain circumstances and longer in others. Some cases can take up to 6 months to resolve if there is a lot of disagreement between the parties or other factors.

How long does an order of possession last?

In general, a possession order is enforceable at any time up to six years after it was issued. Following that, you must obtain approval from the court (CPR 83.2(3)(a)).

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