London Landlords Face Eviction Delays

London Landlords Face Eviction Delays

The County Court bailiff system is often criticised for not arranging evictions appointments promptly causing delays to landlords who have already obtained possession orders. For landlords with properties based in London the situation is about to get much worse.

Two large County Courts in London have recently announced that bailiff eviction appointments will be suspended for the foreseeable future. The County Courts in Central London and Bromley have announced that appointments have been halted due to health and safety concerns, and more specifically, a lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). A court spokesperson was quoted saying that “PPE is being sourced as quickly as possible” to ensure that evictions can go ahead. However, it is unclear how long it will take for normal services to resume.

The decision to suspend eviction appointments will have a serious and detrimental effect on landlords. A tenant cannot be forced to leave a property even where a landlord has already obtained a possession order. Attempts to do so could amount to an unlawful eviction which is both a criminal and civil offence.

If a tenant won’t leave voluntarily, landlords must apply for a warrant of possession which is done via the County Court. Once a warrant has been issued, a Court bailiff will attend the property to remove the tenant.

Landlords have the option of seeking permission for the case to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement purposes and apply for a writ of possession. Once a writ is issued, landlords can then instruct a private enforcement company (licenced by HMCTS) to execute the writ and arrange an eviction appointment. The High Court route is more expensive that the County Court route, but in the current climate, may be the only alternative for some landlords.

It is hoped that the suspension will be a short-term measure, but landlords contemplating or dealing with possession claims in or around central London should prepare themselves for significant delays.

If you are affected by the current suspension, or require any assistance dealing with a possession claim, please do not hesitate to contact our Landlord and Tenant Team on 02920 808666 or via email at [email protected].