Accelerated Possession Procedure – I’m a landlord with a tenant not paying rent. The tenancy is now periodic (the fixed term ended 6 weeks ago) so can I quickly regain possession using the accelerated possession process.
The accelerated possession procedure applies in your case and you do not need to give a reason to evict to use this process.
However, the term “accelerated possession” (AP) is a bit of a misnomer as the courts act quite slowly, and it can take a while – sometimes some months to gain possession. However, usually the AP route is quicker than the standard route as no court hearing is required.
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) must have commenced after 15th January 1989 and the claim must be for possession only, not for a money order for rent arrears.
The fixed term of the tenancy (minimum of 6 months) and the contractual term must both have ended. All the paperwork must be in order – i.e., there must be a valid tenancy agreement and you must have served a valid section 21 notice requiring possession, giving the tenant a minimum of 2 months’ notice, which expired before you made an application to the court.
If you took a deposit you must have complied with the Deposit Protection rules ie, protecting the deposit and serving the statutory notice. You must provide written evidence of this. Your serving of the s21 notice must not preceed this process.
If you are a licensed HMO landlord you must provide evidence of your licence to operate.
You will also need to provide evidence of a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificate.
You make your application to the County Court in the district where the property is located, once the two months’ notice has expired. Use the court form N5B (the standard route with court hearing is N5) and include all relevant documentation with your claim – 3 copies of everything. Be very careful completing all the notices and forms, make sure you have proof of service, and make sure your documentation is all valid, otherwise the claim will be thrown out.
If there is rent arrears you could make a note of this on the form which may be taken into account if the tenant appeals to the court, but you cannot include a money claim with s21.
The tenant has 14 days to appeal. There will not be an actual court hearing, unless the judge is not satisfied all the paperwork is in order, or where the tenant asks for a postponement of possession on hardship grounds. The tenant can only win his defence if you make a technical error or omission in your process.
The order can be delayed for up to 6 weeks on hardship grounds, but otherwise a possession order is granted straight away and is mandatory – the judge must make one.
If the tenant refuses to leave on the granting of a possession order the landlord will require the services of the court baliff. This can delay matters further. You then need to make a further application to the court to instruct the court bailiffs.
Generally speaking, the certainty of possession s21 (mandatory) of the s21 process should always be favoured over the more often discretionary and less certain outcome of the section 8 process. With s8 (breach of contract) many of the grounds for possession are difficult to prove and there is always a danger that the tenant will defend or even counter claim.
If there is a defence or counter claim (example, tenant claims dilapidations), which can delay matters for months, the landlord can be involved in a complicated and an expensive defence process and is unable to back-out unless the tenant’s legal costs are paid in full. Where a tenant has been successful in obtaining legal aid and a barrister, this can mean very high costs.