Eviction of residential tenants is not possible without a Court Order.
Most residential possession actions are pursued through the County Court and Possession Orders are enforced by the County Court Bailiff. The problem for landlords is that it is often difficult to obtain speedy eviction of residential tenants – it may take many weeks for the Court Bailiffs to evict the occupiers. Bailiffs are busy and acting within limited resources. In the meantime, the landlord is often suffering hardship in the form of an ongoing loss of rent. The tenant who has to be taken to Court for the recovery of possession is unlikely to be reliable when it comes to rental payments. In the more desirable properties, the monthly rent can be several thousands of pounds.
Speedier Alternative to the County Court BailiffsThere is an alternative and frequently quicker route once a County Court Possession Order has been obtained. Whilst it is rarely appropriate to commence a possession action in the High Court, it is possible to have a Possession Order transferred to it for enforcement under Section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984. The application can be made before the date for possession has passed if there are reasonable grounds to believe the tenant will not vacate on the due date. Once the Order for transfer is made and the possession date has passed, a Writ of Possession can be obtained in the High Court often on the same day by attendance at the High Court Offices. Once the Writ is issued, the High Court Enforcement Officers can attend the premises to evict the occupiers. There is no requirement that advance notice of the intended eviction date be given to the occupiers, whereas the County Court Bailiffs would give notice. The opportunity therefore for the occupiers to apply to suspend the eviction process and thus delay the eviction date is lost.
This method can also be used against trespassers or squatters (now most likely of commercial premises as squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence) in which case the procedure is simpler once a Possession Order has been obtained.
Enforcement via the High Court is more expensive to pursue but often produces a quicker result as the High Court Enforcement Officers are employed by commercial organisations, unlike the Bailiffs who operate within limited public resources.
In one case in which we were recently involved, the tenants were evicted the next working day after possession was due under the Court Order.
By , Sarah Payne Solicitor Litigation at Cambridge solicitors Barr Ellison