What happens in a county court possession hearing for the eviction of a tenant.
What is a possession hearing?
At a county court possession hearing a judge decides if you should be evicted from your tenancy.
Being taken to county court is a civil matter. It is not the same as going to a criminal court. You cannot be sent to prison.
Where court hearings for eviction are held
Court hearings for eviction are usually held in the county court that covers the area where your home is.
The court sends you papers before the hearing. These tell you the address where the court hearing is and the date and the time your case will be heard.
The court may not be near where you live. If it's difficult for you to get there, you can apply to have a hearing in a more convenient court.
When you arrive at court
Find the court usher - a court officer who deals with the administration of court hearings. The usher has a list of cases taking place that day and will tell you when and where your case will be heard.
If you can't find the usher, the court office can tell you where the hearing is and where you should wait.
It could take a while for your case to be called. There are usually other cases being heard at the same time. The usher decides what order the cases go into court.
Most courts have schemes where there are advisers on duty to help people on the day of the hearing. Contact the court to ask about this.
Who's allowed to attend
You and your landlord can come to the hearing. You can both bring anyone such as a solicitor or adviser who is representing or advising you.
Many courts have a duty adviser who may be able to give you last-minute advice.
Members of the public are not allowed into your hearing. Ask the usher before you go into court if you want a friend or family member to come in with you. The judge usually allows this.
At the court hearing
Your case is heard by a judge. The judge checks that the people in the room are there for the correct hearing. The judge usually explains and helps you understand the court procedure.
Your landlord or their representative speaks first. You may be allowed to ask your landlord questions after they have spoken. Next, you or your representative can speak. This is when you can tell the court why you should not be evicted. Your landlord can ask you questions afterwards.
The judge may ask you or your landlord questions.
The judge makes a decision based on evidence from you and your landlord and on what the law says. If you do not understand the court's decision, ask the judge to explain what it means.
A copy of any order that is made should be sent to you after the hearing.
What to take to the hearing
Take the documents you received from the court before the hearing date and any notes you've prepared for what you want to say at the hearing.
Bring any evidence you have. This could include:
- bank statements showing money in your bank account
- a letter about a new job or an increase in the hours you work
- a copy of your tenancy agreement
Decisions the court can make
The court may decide to:
- make an outright possession order
- make a suspended or postponed possession order
- adjourn the case
- dismiss the case
Where to get advice
Get advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction from your home.
You may qualify for legal aid (free advice or representation) if you're on a low income.
You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:
Have your notice and court paperwork with you when you speak to an adviser.
Video: Help on the day of a hearing
Last updated 26 April 2017 | © Shelter
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