Record speedy eviction

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Many landlords will have been through the process of taking possession proceedings to remove tenants from a property, often in circumstances where the tenants have stopped paying rent.

The process requires landlords to obtain a possession order from the county court, usually after a short court hearing, and then, if the tenants still refuse to leave, to instruct county court bailiffs to evict them. Instructing bailiffs is often referred to as ‘enforcement’.

Problems can arise in the enforcement process when, on the one hand, the landlord is desperate to remove the non-paying tenants, and on the other hand, the county court bailiffs are so busy that they cannot schedule an eviction for another six to eight weeks. In order to circumvent that problem, landlords are able to apply to the county court to transfer the enforcement process to the High Court. Once the matter is in the High Court, the landlord can instruct High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to carry out the eviction. HCEOs are more expensive but do not have the workloads of county court bailiffs, so can carry out evictions within a few days of being appointed.

It is not, however, always a straightforward process to have the case transferred to the High Court for enforcement. Firstly, one must have a good reason for needing possession of the property quickly, otherwise the county court will not make the transfer. Secondly, the county court is itself usually very busy and can take weeks to consider the landlord’s application.

In a recent case, Longmoreswere faced with this type of problem. The landlord desperately needed possession of the property quickly because the insurers refused to insure the property whilst the tenants remained. But the county court could not be persuaded to deal with the transfer-up application urgently. Having tried all other options, Longmores took the unusual step – one that the court rules and textbooks do not envisage – of leapfrogging the county court by making a same-day, urgent application directly to the High Court. The High Court was persuaded that the case was so urgent that it, rather than the county court, should make an order transferring the enforcement process to itself, thereby cutting out the county court altogether.

The application to the High Court was heard at midday on the Friday. On obtaining the High Court order, Longmores then issued a writ of possession at the court office that afternoon. HCEOs were instructed on the Monday morning and a successful eviction took place on the Wednesday morning.

The above case shows that when the help of the court is desperately needed, it can sometimes be possible to sidestep the usual procedure and quickly get that help.

Longmores have a specialist team who can assist landlords with obtaining possession from tenants. We have recently introduced a fixed fee scheme so you can know exactly what the procedure will cost you, and we are happy to review your case for free in order to assess what is required.

For specific advice on Property Disputes, please contact John Wagstaffe.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.