The Business Legal Services Blog

Speeding up the eviction process

Evicting tenants is an expensive and lengthy business. This month, Anna Pettinger highlights one way to speed the process up…

My tenant stopped paying his rent months ago. Do I have to use a bailiff to evict him now I have a possession order, or are there any other options?

A residential landlord asked me recently if he could use high court enforcement officers, instead of county court bailiffs to evict a tenant.

Each court varies, but we are currently seeing significant delays in the implementation of possession orders by bailiffs and as time ticks by, further rental payments are lost. High court enforcement officers, however, often carry out evictions sooner.

Once you have obtained a warrant of possession, you can ask the court’s permission to transfer the order to the high court and then use its enforcement officers to manage the repossession.

If you have reason to believe the bailiffs will be delayed when you make your initial application for a possession order, you can ask the judge to allow enforcement by the high court. If permission is granted at the same time as the possession order and the tenants do not leave by the set date, you can then instruct its officers straight away.

You can also add a claim for the rent arrears to the possession order, so you don’t need to apply for a separate judgement. A bailiff will not attempt to recover arrears, so you will need a high court enforcement officer to see this through.

The decision to permit the transfer of enforcement to the high court is, ultimately, at the judge’s discretion, so your request must include a reason for the transfer. You could state the delays at the county court, loss of income and potential damage to the property.

I already have my possession order. How do I request a transfer for enforcement?

You will need to apply for permission to transfer the enforcement to the high court under Section 2 of your possession order. In these circumstances, the timeframe will be longer.

It can take approximately 30 days from the date you instruct high court enforcement officers to apply for permission for them to carry out the eviction. The time this takes will depend on the court’s workload and how quickly it can process the application.

Is the tenant always notified of the eviction date?

A county court bailiff will send notification of an impending eviction, allowing the tenant time to find alternative accommodation. However, it can also give them opportunity to submit a last-minute application for an extension, causing you further costs and delay.

High court enforcement officers provide notice of their intention to apply for a Writ of Possession, but once it has been obtained, they can attend without further contact (as soon as the day after). If they intend to enforce the rent arrears, however, seven days’ notice must be given.

Is it more expensive to use a high court enforcement officer than a county court bailiff?

Enforcement officers charge between £300 and £600 for standard residential evictions, compared to the court fee of £121 for a bailiff. In both cases, there are additional court fees to pay, given the number of steps required to enforce a possession order and obtain a Writ of Possession.

Ultimately, the route you choose is your decision. You need to weigh up the higher costs against the potential loss of rent whilst waiting for a county court eviction date. It is important to keep your goal in mind and the costs proportionate. For example, there is no point pursuing rent arrears if the tenant doesn’t have two beans to rub together!

If you would like to discuss evicting a tenant in more detail, don’t hesitate to contact me. Email: anna.pettinger@tayloremmet.co.uk

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