Evicting Your Tenant
So you have your court order, it is the possession date ordered by the court, and your tenants do not leave!
You can not go and physically evict them yourself because the tenancy does not end until the property is surrendered or your possession notice is legally enforced - evicting whilst there is still a valid tenancy would be illegal eviction - a criminal offence.
There are only 2 legal ways to regain possession
County Court Bailiffs
To engage the services of the county court bailiff you need to complete court form N325 and submit it to the court with your fee of £110. If you gained your possession order via the online PCOL service, there is an option there to request court bailiffs too.
The bailiffs will contact you and the tenant to advise you of the proposed eviction date. The tenant will usually be given at least 3 days notice. Due to the limited resources, this can be a considerable wait, 6 weeks or longer is not unusual. If the tenant is not paying rent during this time it is advised that you speak to the bailiffs, explain the financial situation, and ask if the eviction date can be brought forward. The best time to contact the Bailiff Manager is between 8 and 9am.
On the possession date the landlord is advised to be present, with a locksmith if required, when the bailiff attends. When the bailiffs arrive they have the legal power to physically remove the tenant from the property if they have to. They can use necessary force to enter the property (with the landlords permission) and are able to remove anyone found living there. They can request a police presence if they believe the tenant may try to stop them entering the property or if there is a breach of the peace. The police will arrest anyone who is violent. Once the bailiffs have checked that no one is left in the property they will formally grant possession back to the landlord who can then secure the property. The bailiffs are not allowed to use unreasonable force or act unreasonably, so they are not allowed to use violence or threaten to do so, they can not harass your tenant or any other person living at the property, they can not use offensive language, or threaten to or cause damage to the tenants belongings. If the bailiff meets undue opposition they will withdraw and reconvene on a different date with appropriate support.
High Court Enforcement Officers
The biggest advantage of using the High Court Enforcement Officer to evict the occupants is the whole process can be done in a matter of days not weeks or months.
Under Section 42 of the County Court Act 1984 the claimant (Landlord) may ask a Judge for permission to transfer the Possession Order from the County Court to the High Court for enforcement using a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). The decision to transfer the Order to the High Court is down to the discretion of the Judge and it is important to note that permission is not always granted, it will be down to your application to persuade the Judge to exercise his/her discretion in allowing the transfer to the HCEO.
What is a HCEO?
A High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) formally known as a Sheriff is a person who is authorised by or on behalf of the Lord Chancellor to execute High Court Judgments and Orders. HCEO’s generally run their own company that specialise in enforcement and who is usually responsible for enforcement duties in a specific region(s). Unlike other Bailiffs and Enforcement Officers HCEO’s have an obligation to execute any writ directed to them.
You will need to choose which HCEO you’re going to use. There are many companies in the industry offering High Court Enforcement services and it’s important you choose the right company to carry out the service. Remember the biggest are not always the best. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be pressured into signing up to a company if you’re not sure about them. You should start by looking at the High Court Officers Association member list.
Using the services of a HCEO has its advantages over the County Court Bailiff however when it comes down to cost it will cost slightly more. The HCEO will usually charge a fee of around £150.00 + VAT and a fee of around £50 + VAT per hour upon attendance. You will also be liable for any other fees incurred such as the fees for a Lock Smith or Glazier if you require them. The cost to issue the writ is £60.00 payable to HMCTS.
Application to request permission to use a HCEO
To request permission to use the HCEO route you will need to complete form N244. You will need to use the following or similar wording in box 3: On the (DATE) a possession order was granted to (claimant), the tenant (Full Name) has not left the property by the date stipulated. The order states the right to ask the court, without further hearing, to authorise a High Court Enforcement Officer to evict the tenant. I have been advised by the court that the County Court Bailiffs will be unable to carry out the eviction before (date). I therefore request that the Judge permit that the case be transferred without delay to High Court Enforcement Officers for enforcement purposes, as covered by Section 42 of the County Court Act 1984, to prevent further loss of rental income, which is currently over £(outstanding rent).
The HCEO information on this page is provided by Vicks Enforcement Ltd