Warrant for Possession & High Court Orders: Using Bailiffs
The county court is where the majority of residential possession claims are dealt with and is where bailiffs become involved.
If the tenant doesn’t leave the property by the date given in an Order for Possession, the landlord can ask for it to be enforced through the relevant county court with a ‘Warrant for Possession’ if it is clear that the tenant is continuing to live in the property. This authorises the county court bailiff to evict the tenant from the property. Application is made by completing form N325, which is available from the local county court or from the Court Service website. The landlord must certify on the form that the tenant has not left the property and, if it is appropriate, that any instalments due under the judgement or order have not been paid. In other words that the tenant has breached the condition of the suspended order.
The bailiffs will serve the warrant on the tenant, both by hand and by post, which gives a date by which the tenant must leave which is often around 5 days time from the date of the letter. If the deadline on the warrant expires then the tenant (along with belongings) will be removed from the property which will then be secured by a locksmith in order for the (former) tenant not to break into the property as it’s a criminal offence.
If the landlord believes police assistance will be required, the bailiffs must be made aware of this 5 days before the eviction date. If police assistance is then not required, then the landlord will need to confirm with the bailiffs that the eviction will still go ahead on that date and no less than 3 days before the eviction date.
It is unlawful for a landlord to take steps to enforce the possession order himself and bailiffs cannot use force.
It does however often take several weeks for the eviction to be executed, and because of this, the tenant often has time to make an application to suspend the warrant and for it to be dealt with by the court the day before the date fixed for the eviction.
HIGH COURT ORDER (Writ Of Possession)
The county court is granted a general power to transfer an eviction case to the High Court under s42(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 and s42(5) provides that if proceedings for enforcement are transferred, the order may be enforced as a High Court Order. The landlord will have to provide evidence as to why the transfer is being requested. In cases where an outright possession order has been made, and whilst the landlord has to obtain permission to issue a writ of possession(except in mortgage cases and that of trespass) this can be done on a ‘without notice’ basis. The court may well be convinced that the occupiers have been made fully aware of all the steps leading to the possession order which is why the occupier may not receive notice of the application and there is no requirement to inform them of the date of the intended eviction. Tenants will be expected to leave on the day the High Court Enforcement Officers arrive.
Additionally, the landlord is entitled to ask the bailiff to seize the tenant’s goods, by warrant of execution, to recover any money payable under the judgement.