What to do if the tenant doesn’t leave?

Going to Court to obtain a possession order is not something that a Landlord will normally undertake lightly. Obtaining possession via the Court can not only take time, but also be costly and expensive, particularly if solicitors are involved.

But obtaining a possession order is not the end of the matter. Whilst the order gives the Landlord the power to obtain possession, it does not guarantee that he will get it quickly. Many tenants, for a variety of reasons, will not have left the property by the date and time specified in the order. Therefore, if the tenant continues to refuse to leave the Landlord has no option but to take further action to enforce the possession order to obtain possession.

The only way that a Landlord can enforce the order is via bailiffs. In the vast majority of cases the eviction is carried out by County Court bailiffs. The Landlord cannot forcibly evict the tenant themselves, as doing so could result in them committing a criminal offence. They also cannot change the locks whilst the tenant remains living in the property.

To instruct bailiffs to carry out an eviction, the Landlord must make an application to Court for a Warrant of Possession, for which there is a Court fee of £121.00. The application is usually made to the Court which issues the possession order. Once the Court accepts the application, the Warrant is processed, and the matter passes to the bailiff office for enforcement. They will arrange a date and time for evicting the tenant and then give notice to the parties. If the tenant wants to stop the eviction for any reason, they will need to make an application to Court to suspend the warrant, with the matter being decided with a hearing if necessary.

Before the eviction, the Landlord will also have to complete a risk assessment advising the bailiffs if he believes that Tenant will cause problems or is likely to be violent or obstructive. They will also need to arrange a locksmith to attend the eviction to change the locks once the tenant has left. Finally, either the Landlord, or an agent appointed by him, will need to attend the eviction itself to assist the bailiff and take possession of the property once he has evicted the tenant.

It is likely that the entire process from application for a warrant to the actual eviction will take between 1-3 months, depending on timescales of the local Court. Therefore, this needs to be factored in by Landlords in deciding how they wish to use the property once the tenant leaves. A Landlord that relies on the tenant leaving on time, may find he has to delay his plans if they refuse to do so and an eviction is required. Landlords are therefore advised to wait until they have physical possession of the property before deciding on what they intend to do with it in the future.

If you have a tenant who is in rent arrears, or you wish to enforce a possession order, our Litigation Department will be able to assist. We offer an initial fixed fee meeting for £95 including VAT. For more information please contact Chris Miller or Justin Sadler on 0118 9589711 or e-mail chris.miller@barrettandco.co.uk .


Further Reading:

Excluding leases from the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

The Reynolds Report – Landlords beware!

Landlord mistakenly grants 2000 year tenancy after not taking legal advice

Fifty shades of grey for landlords

Tenant Fees Act 2019: Changing charges for tenants

Enforcement of Possession Orders

Lease, Licence or Tenancy at Will? – Which to Choose and When

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