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EXCLUSIVE: Evictions halted as bailiffs down tools over safety concerns

central London court evictions

Landlords face even longer waits than normal to evict tenants in London after two big landlords were told that bailiff operations are to be suspended for the ‘foreseeable future’.

This unusual situation has been blamed by officials on now confirmed ‘health and safety reasons’ (see official statement below) but the effect has already been chilling on evictions, with one bailiff reporting an 80% reduction in case load.

LandlordZONE understands the health and safety reasons are that bailiffs are being required to carry the correct Personal Protection Equipment or PPE before completing evictions.

One of the bailiff companies involved says it is now running a ‘skeleton’ service until normal service returns, and that many landlords will now have to turn to the more expensive High Court bailiff route if they want to evict.

London landlords wishing to evict tenants are served by a clutch of county courts and it is one of the biggest – the Central London Court (main picture) - that has sent out an email warning that bailiff appointments have been suspended for the 'forseeable' future.

Eviction changes

Anyone evicting via the courts through a Section 8 notice must first prove the ‘grounds for eviction’ in front of a judge before a possession order is granted and, after that, a warrant issued with a date permitting a bailiff to repossess the property – a route all landlords will have to take soon once Section 21 is abolished.

Landlord Action says one of its cases due for eviction yesterday was suspended with no new date in sight.

“Our clients, whilst sympathetic to the bailiffs' concerns, have already been waiting in some cases many, many months for an appointment,” says Paul Sowerbutts of Landlord Action.

“Other than an expensive and quite frankly very risky application to the High Court this news will add significantly to our clients' difficulties.”

Official statement

An HM Courts and Tribunals spokesperson tells LandlorZONE: “The safety of all bailiffs is of paramount importance.

“We are sourcing bespoke Personal Protective Equipment to ensure that all evictions can go ahead safely and securely.”

The spokesperson adds this guidance:

  • Following work with the bailiffs on Risk Training, it became apparent that some bailiffs did not have their own bespoke PPE. This equipment is now being urgently sourced.
  • We have effective health and safety risk monitoring systems, which are regularly reviewed, particularly in relation to sensitive activity such as the work of county court bailiffs. 
  • Guidance is in place to continue critical services in the interim


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