If the court has made an order to evict you from your private rented home, you may be able to ask the court to change or cancel the order.
When a possession order can be changed
A possession order is a court order that ends your right to live in a property.
It may be possible to apply to the court to make changes to a possession order.
You can ask a court to do this if your landlord was seeking possession of your home using a discretionary ground such as rent arrears. If discretionary grounds are used, the judge has a choice about whether to make a possession order.
You might be able to apply to:
- have the possession order set aside
- suspend or postpone the date for possession
- vary the terms of the order
You may be able to apply to stop or suspend a possession warrant from being carried out by court bailiffs, even if the date for possession has passed
When a possession order cannot be changed
A court cannot change a possession order made because your landlord took you to court for eviction and proved a mandatory ground.
This applies if you are an:
- assured shorthold tenant and your landlord has used the section 21 procedure
- assured tenant and your landlord has used a mandatory ground
- introductory tenant or demoted tenant and the council has followed the correct procedure
- occupier with basic protection
In these situations, the judge has no choice and must make an order.
The judge cannot change the order once it is made, as long as the landlord followed the correct legal procedure to get it.
You may be able to appeal if you think the landlord did not follow the correct procedure and the judge made the original court order in error.
Get advice about appealing. Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Ask the court to set aside a possession order
If a court sets aside a possession order, it means the order is cancelled.
Applications to set aside an order must be made to the court.
You can apply to the court and ask it to set aside a court order because you did not:
- receive the court papers
- know that you had rights to defend your case
- attend the hearing
You can also apply if you did not reply to the court in time, you had a good reason for this, and if you had been able to reply in time, there would have been a different outcome.
You can probably only have the possession order set aside if it should not have been made in the first place.
When a court can set aside a possession order
When deciding if a possession order should be set aside, the court usually considers if:
- you acted quickly after finding out about the possession order
- you had a good reason for not attending the court
- you would have had a reasonable prospect of success if you had attended the court
- it would it be unjust not to set it aside
It also looks at any other relevant issues.
Changing the terms of a postponed or suspended order
Possession orders are often postponed or suspended on the condition that you keep to the terms of an agreement, such as repaying rent arrears in weekly amounts.
You can ask the court to change the terms of the agreement, for example because your finances have changed, making it difficult for you to repay the amount you agreed.
The court won't automatically agree to change the terms of the order. It is less likely to agree if you have had rent arrears or have not kept to previous agreements.
Ask an adviser for help to apply to change the terms of the agreement.
Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Stopping or suspending possession warrants
Making an application to the court to set aside the possession order does not automatically stop the court bailiffs carrying out an eviction.
Ask the court to stay or suspend any warrants at the same time as you apply for an order to be set aside or varied.
If you know that a date has been set to evict you, contact the bailiffs to tell them you have applied to stop the eviction.
Evidence to support your case
You should set out your supporting evidence in any applications you make to have the case re-heard, or for the possession order to be varied, set aside, or delayed.
Get help from an adviser to make sure you have provided all the evidence needed. You probably have to pay a fee for any application, although people claiming benefits or on a low-income can be exempt.
Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.
Suspending or postponing the eviction date
If a possession order can't be set aside and your landlord asks the court to send bailiffs to evict you, the court may be able to delay the date for eviction.