Landlords have the power to evict tenants, but this comes with a process. And where there’s a process, there’s a waiting time. The Association of Residential Letting Agents is currently lobbying Michael Gove, the justice secretary, to speed up the evictions of tenants and reduce the applications that have to be made before High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) can enforce possession orders.
If you’ve given a tenant correct notice to leave the property and they haven’t done so within the specified amount of time, you have to apply to the County Court for a possession order, which gives you the right to evict and take back possession of the property. If the tenant still doesn’t budge, you have to apply to the Court again, this time for a warrant for eviction. That’s when the County Court Bailiffs (CCBs) get involved.
A landlord can then choose whether to make another application to escalate possession proceedings by transferring the execution of the warrant to the High Court – but the County Court has to give permission for this transfer. Their power to do this is found in section 42(2) of the County Courts Act 1984.
ARLA is arguing that CCBs are overworked and take much longer to execute the warrant than High Court Enforcement Officers do, hence why an increasing number of landlords are choosing to escalate possession proceedings. It is also arguing that there are inconsistencies over how Judges deal with applications, which leads to some agents and landlords losing money while possession proceedings continue.
Here at LegalforLandlords, we apply for section 42 on all of our possession cases, and if this is granted by the County Court Judge, we apply to the High Court for HCEOs to enforce the possession order. We have found that, on average, less than 5% of cases are permitted to transfer from the County Court to the High Court. Usually, the transfer is only allowed if the tenant arrears are high.
In addition, we have found that the likelihood of transfer also depends on whether the landlord applies under the standard route or the accelerated route. The standard route involves a court hearing, whereas the accelerated route typically doesn’t. We do a lot of applications for the accelerated route for landlords who want to take possession back and are willing to write off any rent arrears.
From our experience, even if the section 42 is approved, there can be other caveats with the possession order and a set period of time allowed to deal with them. That’s why, if you’re looking for a speedy eviction, we would usually recommend sticking with the standard county court bailiff. Everyone’s circumstances are different, though, so if you’re considering making an application speak to us first on 0333 577 9050 and we’ll advise you on the best route.