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Applying to Court for Possession – Standard Procedure

5.7 Applying to Court for Possession – Standard Procedure

As soon as the relevant notice period expires it is possible for the landlord
to either apply to the court in person or instruct a solicitor to do so.

Only the landlord personally, or their solicitor, can sign the court papers.
A common reason for possession claims being rejected by the court is that
they are signed by a letting agent. A letting agent can help the landlord
draft the paperwork, but they cannot sign on the landlord’s behalf and
they do not have a right to represent the landlord at court in the landlord’s
absence. A landlord who is likely to be absent from the UK will need to
instruct a solicitor to commence legal action if they wish to be represented
in their absence.

After proceedings have been issued at court there is normally a waiting
period of at least a month for a court hearing. The tenant is not required
to vacate the property until there is a court order requiring them to do
so (although they will sometimes simply leave during this period). If a
landlord attempts to evict a tenant before the court order is made, they are
likely to commit a criminal – and imprisonable – offence.

If the court orders possession, the tenant will have to leave on the date
specified in the court order. This is called an absolute possession order.

If the court makes a suspended possession order and the tenant breaches
the conditions of it, the landlord may apply to the court for an absolute
possession order or a warrant for possession, depending on the terms of
the suspended order. Frequently the tenant will then apply to the court
for a ‘stay of execution’ which may be granted by the judge if the tenant
is able to present sufficient evidence of their willingness and capability to
comply with the original or revised terms of the order or that something
has occurred that has led to the tenant being unable to comply with the
original terms. This may have been caused because the tenant had been
unable to obtain advice before the previous hearing.