Landlords who need to evict tenants will need to serve notice correctly and then obtain a possession order from the court before they can proceed.
In this article we look at the pros and cons of choosing the accelerated possession procedure, which can be a faster option. However, it may not be used in all circumstances.
When you can use the accelerated possession procedure
To use the accelerated possession procedure, the following must apply:
- The tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy in England or Wales
- The tenant moved into the property after 15th January 1989
- You must have given the tenants at least 2 months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing Act and they have not left by the date specified
- If you took a money deposit, you must have put it in a deposit protection scheme
- You are not claiming rent arrears
When you apply to court for accelerated possession, your tenants will be sent a copy of the application by the court and they will have 14 days from the date of receipt to challenge it.
The application will be reviewed by a judge, who can then decide whether to award the possession order without the need for a hearing. If the tenant has serious grounds for defence, the judge is likely to set a court hearing, after which he will decide on whether to award the possession order.
If the possession order is awarded, the judge will normally give the tenants 14 to 28 days to leave the property.
The main advantage is that the accelerated possession procedure can be a faster way of recovering your property to re-let it, providing all the conditions are met.
The court fee is the same for both the accelerated and standard possession procedure. At the time of writing the court fee is £355.
Possession Claim Online, POCL, does not apply, as it can only be used for possessions where there are rent or mortgage arrears.
You cannot claim for rent arrears. If you do have arrears to recover, you will need to either use the standard possession procedure or make a separate court claim for the arrears. It is worth bearing in mind, though, that it can be challenging to recover rent arrears from tenants in financial difficulties.
If your tenant is on a fixed-term tenancy, you cannot evict them until the fixed term has ended. If it is a periodic tenancy, the procedure can only be used after the first six months have passed. This can make the notice period significantly longer than two months.
If you make any mistakes or omissions in either the service of the section 21 notice or the application to court, the judge is likely to dismiss the application, which may mean that you have to ask for a hearing or start the process again.
If the tenants claim exceptionally difficult circumstances, the judge is permitted to give them up to 6 weeks to leave the property, instead of 14 to 28 days..
If tenants do not leave after the date provided on the possession order, you will then need to decide whether to action to evict the tenants. You can either use the County Court bailiffs or request leave to use a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
You can apply under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 for permission to transfer the possession order to the High Court for enforcement by an HCEO. The best time to apply for permission is when making the initial application for the possession order.
The decision is likely to be influenced by the need for speed. County Court bailiffs will be cheaper, but in many courts, especially the busier ones, it may mean a wait of several weeks for an appointment for the eviction.
On the other hand, HCEOs will normally obtain the writ within days and enforce as soon as possible thereafter.
We have developed a free downloadable eBook guide to the use of an HCEO to obtain possession of residential property for landlords.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance