Enforcement of possession orders in the post-COVID era
On 1 June 2021, the ban on residential evictions was lifted in response to the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.
The enforcement process
The first stage of an eviction is for a court to issue an order for possession telling your tenant to leave, or a suspended order for possession, according to which the tenant may stay in the property if they make the payments or follow the conditions set out in the suspended order.
If an order for possession is granted, your tenants will be given a date by when they must leave your property (this can be up to six weeks following the court hearing). If the tenants leave by this date, no further action needs to be taken.
If your tenant does not leave by this date, or fails to follow the stipulations set out in the suspended order for possession, you can evict them with a warrant for possession. If a warrant is issued, your tenant will be sent an eviction notice stating the date they must leave by and the eviction will be dealt with by a county court bailiff.
Landlords can also transfer the warrant from the county court to the High Court in order to obtain a ‘writ of possession’. Landlords must first apply for permission from the county court for a £66 fee. A High Court enforcement officer will then be able to evict your tenant, which will likely speed up the process.
Repossession by bailiffs – what happens on the day?
While bailiffs and/or enforcement agents can now enforce an order for possession, they are currently asked not to do so if a resident of the property has reported symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive, or is self-isolating. In these cases, the eviction will be rescheduled.
County court bailiffs will usually carry out evictions between 9am and 5pm, while High Court enforcement offers are not allowed to arrive at a property before 6am or after 9pm. Your tenant will be asked to leave and to hand over their keys to the property.
Bailiffs are not obliged to give tenants time to pack their things prior to eviction, so you may have to deal with their belongings once they are gone. There are strict rules you must adhere to when doing this, as set out in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
Knowledgeable Dispute Resolution lawyers
Getting served with an eviction notice can be a very worrying time for a tenant. However, it is often a highly stressful situation for landlords, too, many of whom will have done their best to resolve the dispute amicably. Professional legal advice can clarify the eviction process and help landlords understand their rights and responsibilities in the lead up to, and following, an eviction.
For more information, please get in touch with us on 0203 871 0110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.