The Trials and Tribulations of Seeking Possession in the County CourtAugust 23, 2017
Many landlords find the prospect of taking court action to seek possession rather daunting, as often these are uncharted waters. If you have to go that far, the chances are that your tenant is trying to avoid eviction for as long as possible.
Our advice is to be prepared and know what to expect:
1. Watch out for court deadlines
The Court will send you notification of the hearing in advance and they will usually set deadlines for filing your paperwork. Your witness evidence, supporting documents and any response to the tenant’s claim or request for postponement must be sent to the Court well in advance of any deadline. Being late or missing a deadline could be seriously detrimental to your claim.
2. Busy Judges
The County Court is a very busy place where resources are strained. Sometimes your documents may not reach the Court file or the Judge. In nearly all cases, the Judge would not have had the time to read your documents. Do not be surprised if that happens.
3. Queues and waiting
If you need to attend the hearing yourself, you should always arrive in good time and wait for your turn. Be patient. The District Judge will have a long list of cases to be heard and inevitably some cases will take longer than anticipated. Your case might be listed only for 10-15 minutes, but you could wait for up to several hours.
4. Last minute representation, payment or evidence from the tenant
It is irritating but it happens. There is plenty of free advice for tenants and often this happens at the door of the Court in the form of a duty solicitor. You could be presented with all sorts that you have never seen before.
If you are making a Section 8 claim based on rent arrears, and the tenant pays something to reduce the arrears, there is a risk you will not get a possession order at all.
5. The hearing and judgment
Whether you are attending Court yourself or have legal representation, always remember to be courteous to the Judge even if you do not agree with what they are saying. You should not pull faces, interrupt or react to anything that the tenant or their representative might say. You will get your chance to tell the Judge your perspective and behaviours in Court will not go unnoticed - Judges sitting on the bench are very observant.
Once the Judge makes a decision, they will deliver their judgment and make an order. The Judge will explain to you the reasons for making that order.
6. Bailiff’s warrant
More often than not, tenants do not leave on the date ordered. You will then incur further costs (a Court fee of £121, if using County Court bailiffs) and on eviction, the tenant in all cases will disappear without clearing their rent arrears. Any order for the tenant to pay you money is academic. Tenants do not usually have any money to pay and they will not provide a forwarding address. They leave owing you money you may never see.