Possession orders are used by property and land owners, private and public sector, to remove tenants and trespassers from property or land.
As the process is different in each case, this article gives guidance on each situation.
As squatting in residential property is now a criminal offence under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. To remove squatters from residential property, call the Police who will attend, arrest and remove them.
If a landlord wishes to repossess his property from his tenants, he must apply to court for an order of possession. Most private tenancies started on or after 28th February 1997 are assured shorthold tenancies (AST) contact us for further information about how to achieve this.
Orders for possession can be enforced by a County Court Bailiff (CCB) under a warrant, but many private landlords are finding this can take some time. It is possible to apply under Section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 to transfer the order to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
It will be at the Court’s discretion as to whether they allow the order to be transferred to the High Court.
A commercial landlord can apply for an order for possession against tenants, has the option to use the Common Law remedy of forfeiture of lease, which can be used once the rent is overdue as defined by the period specified in the lease.
On behalf of the landlord we will normally appoint a Certificated Bailiff to enter the premises, change the locks and take back possession of the property.
If the tenant had absconded owing rent, the landlord can repossess under Common Law, then apply for a County Court Judgment (CCJ) for the rent arrears.
Trespassers in commercial property
It seems to be increasingly common for squatters to occupy empty commercial premises since the criminalisation of squatting in residential property.
In this case, the landlord can apply for an order for possession, which will be made out against “persons unknown”. In the majority of cases, the order will be made in the County Court local to the property in question.
However, transferring the order for possession to the High Court for enforcement (using Form N293A) does not require permission from the Court as section 42 does not apply. Once the order has been transferred, a writ of possession will be issued, which the sheriff will then enforce.
Sheriffs are not required to give notice of enforcement – there are sometimes circumstances where it is advisable to do so, but if giving notice may adversely affect the eviction, then it does not need to be given.
Trespassers on land
As with trespassers in commercial property, the order for possession is made against “persons unknown”. It is normally started in the County Court
The order can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement .The sheriff will normally conduct a risk assessment on all large scale evictions of trespassers – from property or from land – to ensure that all the necessary specialists and equipment are available to complete the eviction safely. Once the writ of possession is issued, the sheriff will enforce, normally without giving notice to the squatters.