Delay on Evictions
Do not go in there!
Trainee Solicitor, Olivia McAllister, on breaking news that London evictions have been halted.
This week, the County Court at Central London announced that bailiff appointments (i.e., evictions) in London have been suspended for the “foreseeable future”, citing health and safety concerns arising from a lack of available personal protection equipment.
Landlords will be aware that obtaining a possession order often isn’t the end of the matter when the tenant does not vacate the property within the time ordered by the Court. Landlords are then required to obtain a warrant of possession. In short, this means instructing the County Court bailiff to evict.
This has, notoriously, been a slow process, but now one which appears to have ground to a halt, with an ever growing backlog (likely to be exacerbated by an anticipated increase in claims ahead of the abolishment of the use of s.21 notices).
This leaves landlords in an unenviable position of being unable to recover their property (as ordered by the Court) when a tenant refuses and/or is unable to vacate.
Long before this announcement, it has been Greenhalgh Kerr’s practice to regularly advise its landlord clients to seek, when seeking possession, an additional order transferring the claim to the High Court for enforcement pursuant to s.42(2) of the County Court Act 1984.
By doing this, landlords can then instruct one of the many High Court Enforcement Officers who operate privately and independently from the Court system. They are often able to act much more swiftly, so our landlord clients can expect to recover their property within days and weeks, as opposed to months. This is an often unused, but highly effective, application to combat delay.
Of course, the question of transfer remains at the County Court’s discretion and, anecdotally, judges have often been reluctant to make an order without a proper need for it.
However, in a recent case, in which Greenhalgh Kerr successfully obtained a possession order and ‘transfer up’ for its landlord client, the judge accepted submissions that delays in the Court system warranted a ‘transfer up’ (indeed, the advocate made reference to one County Court which has confirmed to Greenhalgh Kerr in writing that they have been working to an “agreed emergency plan” since early 2023).
The upshot? The landlord client recovered their property much sooner that they would have done had the matter stayed with the County Court bailiff, their financial exposure was limited and the property was re-let sooner.
In the current climate and in light of this week’s news, we would expect more judges to be amenable to this type of order. Greenhalgh Kerr will continue to use this as a reason for ‘transfer up’ along with other various approaches taken to secure swift and proper results for their landlord clients.
To discuss further, contact any one of our key contacts, Dan Tate, Gemma Hackett or Paul Luukas, by telephone or email: https://www.greenhalghkerr.com/housing-recoveries/.