Landlords who are owed rent arrears can normally use the possession claim online service to repossess a property. The online service can be used for both England and Wales. It cannot be used where there has been trespass (squatting) on the property or if tenants have broken the terms of the lease. In cases where the online service cannot be used, landlords should fill in Form N5 and post this to the relevant local court (see GOV.UK for further information). The government website also contains Welsh versions of the relevant forms for use in Wales.
If rent arrears are not being claimed, and tenants have failed to leave at the end of a valid Section 21 notice period, landlords can apply for an accelerated possession order. Form N5B must be filled in and sent to the relevant local court (see GOV.UK for further information). Tenants will be given 14 days to challenge the application, following which a judge will either issue a possession order or decide to hold a court hearing.
If the case goes to court, the judge can make the following decisions:
- dismiss the case
- adjourn the hearing
- outright possession order - tenants must vacate the property by the date given in the order (either 14 or 28 days after the court hearing). A warrant for possession may be issued by the court if they do not leave by this date.
- suspended order for possession - this allows the tenants to stay in the property subject to certain conditions (eg making regular payments)
- money order - tenants must make a certain payment, failing which bailiffs may be sent out
- possession orders with a money judgment - this is normally a set amount that must be paid by the tenants as part of a suspended order for possession (see GOV.UK for more information).
Possession hearings and court orders can be appealed if it can be shown that the judge made a mistake. If permission to appeal is granted, a court fee must normally be paid.