Court orders for eviction
Most landlords need to get a possession order from the court before a tenant can be evicted. There are several types of court order. The type of court order that can be made depends on a number of things including your particular circumstances and the type of tenancy you have.
Applying for possession is a civil matter. You won't be sent to prison if you do not move out of your home before your landlord goes to court.
What is a 'Possession order'?
Your landlord has to get permission from the court before he or she can evict you. This is called 'applying for possession'. If the court gives your landlord a possession order this ends your right to live in your home.
At the hearing, it is possible for the judge to:
- make an outright possession order;
- make a suspended possession order;
- adjourn the case;
- dismiss the case.
What is an 'outright possession order'?
If an outright possession order is given you have to leave the accommodation by the date given in the order. If you have not left by the date in the possession order, your landlord can apply to the enforcement of judgments office to evict you.
What is a 'suspended possession order'?
The court can grant a 'suspended possession order' if your landlord has a good reason to evict you but it wouldn't be fair to evict you. You will be able to stay in your home if you stick to certain conditions, which are explained in the court order. For example you may be ordered to pay off rent you owe at a certain amount each week or not to cause further disturbance to your neighbours.
If you don't stick to all of the conditions of the order your landlord can apply to the court for the enforcement of judgments office to evict you.
What does 'adjourning the case' mean?
The court can grant an adjournment if the case cannot be decided yet and that the hearing should be delayed. An adjournment can be for an indefinite or for a fixed period of time. This might happen if:
- your landlord says you have a certain type of tenancy but you disagree;
- the judge gives you more time to sort out a housing benefit claim;
- the judge needs more evidence before making a decision.
You will usually be given a date for a new court hearing. You have the right to remain in your home. If you are behind with the rent you may have to pay a certain amount each week as a condition of the case being adjourned.
What does 'dismissing the case' mean?
The court may decide that your case should be dismissed because there is no reason why you should be evicted. This might happen if:
- your landlord does not have the right to apply for possession;
- your landlord has not followed the correct procedure for bringing the case to court.
If the case is dismissed you have the right to remain in your home.
Can I change the order?
You might be able to apply to the court to have the possession order cancelled or suspended. This is only likely if the possession order should not have been granted in the first place. This might be because:
- you did not receive the court papers,
- you did not know you could defend your case,
- you did not attend the hearing,
- you did not reply to the court in time, you had a good reason for this, and if you had been able to reply in time the court would have made a different order or no order at all.
You may be able to change the conditions attached to a suspended possession order. This might be possible if your circumstances change. It will be easier to do this if your landlord agrees with the change to the conditions.
To cancel, suspend or change an order, you will need to apply to the court by filling in a specific form. You may also have to pay a fee.
Will I have to pay court costs?
If a possession order is made or if you leave the property after your landlord starts the court case but before the order is made, you may be ordered to pay your landlord's legal costs. Contact a local advice agency if you are in this situation.
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