Find out if you can ask the court to change or cancel a possession order or suspended possession order.
When a possession order can't be changed
A possession order is a court order that ends your right to live in a property.
A court can't usually change a possession order if you are:
- an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord used the section 21 procedure
- an assured tenant and your landlord has used a mandatory ground for possession
- council tenant with an introductory tenancy or demoted tenancy
- student in halls of residence (occupier with basic protection)
If your landlord didn't follow the correct procedure and the judge made the possession order in error, you may be able to appeal against the decision.
If you don't leave the property by the date set out in the court order, your landlord can ask the court to allow bailiffs to evict you.
Find out more about eviction by bailiffs.
When the court can change a possession order
You can ask a court to make changes to a possession order or a suspended possession order if your landlord applied to the court using a discretionary ground.
A discretionary ground means that the court had to decide that the ground to evict you was proved by the landlord, for example you owed rent, and that it was reasonable to evict you.
Rent arrears is often a discretionary ground.
You could apply to the court to:
- have the possession order set aside (cancelled)
- suspend or postpone the date for possession
- vary the terms of the order
- change an outright possession order to a suspended possession order
Ask the court to set aside a possession order
If a court sets aside a possession order, it means the order is cancelled.
You can apply to the court to have the possession order set aside if you didn’t go to the court hearing and it shouldn't have been made in the first place.
When deciding if a possession order should be set aside, the court considers if:
- you acted quickly after finding out about the possession order
- you had a good reason for not attending the court hearing
- you would have had a reasonable prospect of success if you had gone to the court hearing
It will usually look into any other relevant issues.
If you are an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord used the accelerated possession procedure to get the court order, there would have been no court hearing. You can apply to the court to set aside the order. You can do this if the possession order shouldn't have been made because the section 21 notice wasn't valid. You have 14 days from the date you got the possession order to apply.
Ask to change a suspended possession order
Possession orders are often postponed or suspended on the condition that you keep to the terms of an agreement. For example, if your landlord asked for a court order because you hadn't paid the rent, the court may decide to:
- suspend the court order on condition that you repay the rent arrears in weekly amounts
- pay a set amount as a lump sum by a certain date
You can ask the court to change the terms of the possession order if it's difficult for you to repay the amount you originally agreed. Tell the court if changes in your circumstances have affected your ability to keep to the agreement.
The court won't automatically agree to change the terms of the order. It is less likely to agree if you haven't 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.
Applications and fees
Use court form N244 to make an application to the court to get a possession order changed.
Get help to complete form N244 from HM Court and Tribunal Service.
Get help with applying to the court
You'll need to set out supporting evidence in any applications you make to the court.
Get help from an adviser to make sure you have provided all the evidence needed.
Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.