Accelerated Possession – what is it all about?

by propertyreclaim on July 31, 2013

(Property law; England & Wales)

When can it be used?

A landlord is only permitted to use accelerated possession if the tenancy is either shorthold or statutory periodic (which is when a shorthold tenancy has ended, but the tenant stays in the property with the landlord’s agreement. The tenancy terms do not change.)There must be a written tenancy agreement in place and the obligatory notice in writing must be correctly served. In addition, a landlord can only require a tenant to vacate the property at the end of the fixed term tenancy, not before. If these fixed rules have not been followed then a tenant can challenge the eviction.

Section 21 Notice Explained
The landlord cannot repossess their property during the first six months of an assured shorthold tenancy. Once six months has passed and before any further action is taken, the landlord must serve what is known as a section 21 notice, which falls under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act 1988. This written notice must be served and must be issued a minimum of 2 months before the tenants are required to vacate the property.

Gaining an accelerated possession order does not necessarily require the tenant to be in breach of any of the terms of their tenancy agreement. The first stage in the process is for the landlord to apply to the court for accelerated possession, the court will then copy the tenant in on the relevant paperwork so that they are fully informed. The landlord is not obliged to demonstrate that it is reasonable to grant possession. If the tenant wishes to challenge the order, they must do so within 14 days of receipt, or the challenge will be automatically dismissed.

Judge Led
Depending on the strength of the application the sitting judge will normally issue the protection order straight away, but does have the option to order a court hearing if they feel they need more information. If you are applying for an accelerated possession order, make sure you submit as much clear evidence as possible to avoid the necessity for a court hearing, which will lengthen the process. Landlords take note: accelerated position is not always a quick and easy fix.

Eviction process
If the judge decides to issue the possession order, the timescale of eviction is up to the individual judge’s discretion. The minimum notice period is 14 days, although in complicated circumstances the judge may allow up to 42 days. If the notice period expires and the tenant has still not left the property, the landlord has the right to engage bailiffs to enforce the eviction.

Note well
It should be noted that using a section 21 notice is only applicable when a landlord is seeking to repossess their property, not if they are looking to recover rent arrears. In this case, they will need to either apply to the small claims court, or apply for a standard fault based possession order.

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