What does warrant for restitution mean for the eviction process?

by propertyreclaim on August 29, 2013

A key element of property law, rental agreements are generally excellent for both parties, particularly when you choose your tenants carefully. Choosing your tenants is the most important thing you will do as a landlord. Many landlords will not accept housing-benefit claimants because if legal action became necessary, the landlord would not have the option of claiming back their money from the tenant’s employer. Unfortunately, though, all the precautions in the world won’t totally eliminate the risk of tenants failing to pay the rent or, ultimately, having to evict them.

In order to evict tenants that have defaulted on their rental payments, a landlord must go through the correct legal procedure. A possession order must be obtained from the Court, without which the landlord would be committing a criminal offence by going ahead with an eviction. If a landlord is expecting the tenants to refuse to leave when the possession order has been granted, it is advisable to ask the police to attend when action is taken to possess the property. A tenant who resists a court possession order commits a criminal offence for which they can be arrested.

A warrant of possession allows bailiffs to enforce the landlord’s possession order. If the tenant owes money to the landlord, the bailiffs may reclaim that money by taking goods owned by the tenant. The worst possible scenario is that despite evicting tenants, they return to the property. Fortunately, though, you still have legal recourse in this situation.

What Is a Warrant of Restitution?

When a person who has been evicted from premises re-enters those premises illegally, a warrant of restitution can be issued. This authorises a bailiff to evict all occupants found on the premises and re-deliver the premises to the landlord. You do not need to start fresh legal proceedings against the tenants to obtain a warrant of restitution because it is effectively an additional warrant of possession. When a warrant of restitution is granted, the bailiff will return to the property and evict the tenants again.

What Are the Consequences for the Tenants?

It would be unusual for the tenants to re-enter a property under these circumstances as long as the landlord takes reasonable precautions such as changing the locks. If the locks have been changed on the property then the tenant would have to use force to re-enter. This is a criminal offence for which the tenant could be arrested.

Powers Exercised by Bailiffs

The Court Service has recently issued guidance to bailiffs in relation to their use of force when evicting tenants. They were advised that whilst they could use reasonable force to break into premises, they could not use force to remove the occupier. A court case that took place after this advice was issued clarified the legal situation when tenants refuse to leave and cannot be forcibly removed by bailiffs. The landlord applied to the court for the tenant to be sent to prison and the court committed the tenant to prison for seven days.

If money is owed to a landlord, it is possible for them to obtain an attachment of earnings order to recover that money from the tenant’s employer.

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