Preparing for an eviction of your tenants
25th November 2022
25th November 2022
We understand that legal action to recover possession of your property can be an extremely frustrating and lengthy process. It can take several months to obtain a possession order from the Court and then, if the tenant fails to leave within the timeframe given on the Court order (usually 14 days from the date of the order), you are required to submit a further application to the Court requesting a warrant for the bailiff to evict the tenant (see here for more information on the possession process). It can take several weeks, if not months, for the bailiff to attend to carry out an eviction. During this time, the tenant will still be in possession and you may be suffering financial loss if you are not receiving any rent.
Therefore, when the eviction day finally arrives, the possibility of cancellations or further delays is unlikely to be welcome news to landlords. For this reason, we have provided some practical advice to assist landlords in ensuring that they are fully prepared for any potential pitfalls on the day.
Preparing for an eviction
Before the eviction date
When filing the request for warrant of eviction with the Court, complete and include the bailiff risk assessment form. This is your opportunity to make the bailiff aware, in advance, of any issues that might hinder the eviction as well as any risks to the bailiff in carrying out the eviction. If you have a solicitor doing this for you, ensure they have all relevant information. The types of issues you should make the bailiff aware of include the following:
any violent, threatening or abusive behaviour from the tenant; i
if there has been any involvement from the police or social services with the tenant or anyone else who occupies the property;
if you are aware of any other issues that may affect the tenant’s behaviour such as mental health issues or drug and alcohol abuse;
if there are any dangerous animals at the property.
If any further issues come to light following submission of the application and risk assessment form, you should notify the Court in writing as soon as possible so that they can alert the bailiff prior to the eviction date. The more information you are able to provide to the Court, the better.
Notify other agencies of the eviction where necessary. For example, you may wish to alert the following agencies:
The police - if you have concerns about the tenant’s behaviour on the day of the eviction. They may be unable to provide any immediate assistance as an eviction is a civil matter, however where there are genuine safety concerns it is helpful for the police to be aware of the date of the eviction and, where possible, be on ‘stand-by’ to react if needed;
social services - if you are aware of any welfare issues regarding those who are being evicted or occupying the premises, to what assistance (if any) they can provide before or on the day of the eviction; and
the RSPCA (or other animal welfare organisations) - if you have any concerns about animals living at the property on or before the eviction. These organisations will be able to advise on what they are able to do on the day of or after the eviction, to ensure the presence of any animals should not delay the eviction taking place.
If the property is a flat contained within a block of flats, ensure that you have access to the communal entrance door. You may need to ask the agent who manages the block for the key or arrange for them to attend the appointment so that they can let the bailiff into the building;
Ensure that you have arranged for a locksmith to attend at the relevant time in case the tenant refuses to allow the bailiff into the property. A locksmith is also useful as they can change the locks to prevent the tenant coming back once the eviction has taken place;
On the eviction date
Arrive early in readiness for the eviction. We would suggest at least 15 minutes beforehand;
But also be prepared to wait as bailiffs often run late, especially if they have had difficulties at earlier evictions. County Court bailiffs will normally attend between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm;
Take a copy of the Court’s ‘Notice of Appointment’ with the Court details, date and time of the eviction, in case of any problems and you need to try and contact the Court. Also ensure you have your solicitors details to hand;
Last minute applications can be made to suspend the warrant, even on the day of the eviction, so do be aware that evictions can be cancelled last minute;
Once you are inside, take photographs of anything left behind so you can follow the right procedures in respect of any items left behind by the tenant (for which, see here).
In some cases, despite your best efforts to be fully prepared, evictions can still be cancelled for a number of reasons. Ultimately, the decision whether to proceed on any given day is down to the bailiffs. Although being prepared will put you in the best possible position for the eviction to go ahead as planned, sometimes there are unknown factors or circumstances outside of your control which prevent the bailiffs from proceeding with the appointment. If the eviction is cancelled, the best advice is to take guidance from the bailiffs as to what they will require to ensure the eviction goes ahead the next time as well as legal advice on any applications made by the tenant.
Alternative option to Bailiff eviction
If you are concerned about the waiting time for receiving an eviction date from the County Court, in some cases there is an alternative option of enforcing the possession order through the High Court, where the eviction can be carried out by a High Court Enforcement Officer (“HCEO”). Although this process will attract higher costs, the timeframe for an eviction is generally much quicker. As the HCEOs are private firms (so not Court bailiffs), they can be more flexible in terms of tailoring the eviction day to the specific circumstances and can allocate more time for an eviction where considered necessary. These officers are often used for more difficult evictions and, as such, can have more experience in handling difficult situations to ensure the eviction proceeds smoothly. They are also easier to contact that the County Courts, whose resources are already stretched and often have no direct call lines to the bailiffs. Therefore, where you are anticipating a difficult eviction, it may be preferable (where it is possible) to opt for an eviction via the HCEOs. Please see here for further information on the eviction process through the High Court.
For more information, please feel free to contact a member of the team on 01435 897297 or email@example.com.
This legal update is provided free of charge for information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of KDL Law or by KDL Law as a whole.
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