The court will normally award the costs of the application for possession against the tenant but they may allow them time to pay if they are on a limited income. A landlord may feel that it is not worth seeking to claim the costs once the property has been recovered, if it is going to be difficult to administer the instalments.
Where the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord can continue to accept money from a tenant at any time during the possession process, from service of the notice to eviction.
If possession is ordered on the grounds of rent arrears, the court will normally order the tenant to pay back the rent owed at a rate appropriate to their circumstances. If asked to consider it, the court may also award a sum to cover interest on the outstanding rent and the court costs associated with obtaining the order. A landlord will need to consider whether it is viable to chase a debt after the end of the tenancy. It is common advice to landlords that they may be throwing good money after bad by pursuing the debt if the tenant is unlikely to be able to pay it.
The tenant should leave the property on or before the date of possession but if they do not do so, a landlord must apply to the County Court for a Warrant for Possession. A landlord cannot themselves evict a tenant, even if they have a court order. If the tenant refuses to leave after the date specified in the order, a warrant for eviction must be obtained from the court, using Form N325: Request for Warrant of Possession of Land. The form is available from http://www.justice.gov.uk/forms/hmcts.
The warrant is normally served on the property or the tenant by the bailiff by hand, and a time is booked by the court for the bailiff to return and carry out the eviction. The landlord should attend at the same time so that the bailiff can formally hand over the property and, if necessary, arrange for the locks to be changed. If the tenant still does not have anywhere to move to it may be necessary for the tenant’s possessions to be retained for a reasonable time until they can be collected or disposed of.
If the tenant has not already done so, the landlord may wish to advise the tenant to apply to the local council’s homelessness services who may assist with the provision of storage of the possessions and or temporary and permanent accommodation. That will then mean that the landlord can make arrangements for the property to be re-let.
In certain circumstances it may be possible to employ the services of a High Court Enforcement Officer. However, the procedure can be complex, lengthy and expensive. Such a decision will generally depend on the length of time a County Court bailiff is likely to take to attend. Permission from the County Court is required to transfer the possession claim to the High Court and this isn’t often forthcoming.
Where the County Court bailiff is going to take 6 weeks or less, that is usually the best route to follow. If however they might take longer, then consideration could be given to the more expensive alternative route.
You can contact the County Court bailiff before making a decision to get an estimated time of attendance.
It is possible to apply for permission to transfer to the High Court at the same time as making the claim which could reduce the time considerably. Seek professional legal advice if this is something you wish to do.