What is a possession order for eviction?

Court orders the court can make if your landlord takes you to court for eviction.

Eviction step 2 - court order

Decisions a court can make

Your landlord must get permission from the county court before you can be evicted. You can be evicted if the court grants your landlord a possession order.

The court decides whether a possession order should be made.

It can decide to make:

  • an outright possession order
  • a suspended or postponed possession order
  • a money judgement against you

The court could also decide to adjourn or dismiss the case against you.

At the same time, the court decides if you should pay any of your landlord's costs of taking you to court.

Outright possession order

An outright possession order means you must leave the property by the date given in the order. The date is usually 14 days after the date the court makes the order.

In exceptional circumstances, for example you are ill or have young children, you can ask the court to delay eviction for up to six weeks.

To ask for a delay, tell the judge at a court hearing or when you send in your reply form why your eviction should be delayed.

If you have not left by the date given in the possession order, your landlord can then apply to the court for the bailiffs to evict you.

You should be given at least a few days' notice before the bailiffs arrive.

Suspended or postponed possession order

A suspended or postponed possession order means that you can stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions.

These conditions are explained on the court order. For example, you may be ordered to pay off any rent you owe at a certain amount each week or not to cause further disturbance to your neighbours.

If you have a suspended possession order but you don't keep to all of the conditions of the order, your landlord can apply to the court for the bailiffs to evict you. This could happen very quickly and without advance warning.

If you have a postponed possession order and you don't keep to all of the conditions, your landlord can apply to the court for a date to be fixed for when you have to leave. After this date passes your landlord can then apply for the bailiffs to evict you.

Order to adjourn the case

An adjournment means the case cannot be decided yet and the hearing should be delayed.

This is called adjourning the case. This can be done either indefinitely or for a fixed period of time.

For example, this can happen if:

  • your landlord says you have a certain type of tenancy but you disagree
  • the judge gives you more time to sort out a housing benefit claim
  • you don't owe much and you don't have a history of rent arrears
  • the judge needs more evidence before making a decision

When the case is adjourned you may be given a date for another court hearing. Or your landlord may be told to reapply to the court after a fixed period of time or if the circumstances of the case change.

In the meantime you have the right to remain in your home.

As a condition of the case being adjourned, you may have to pay back a certain amount of your rent arrears each week.

The court can decide that if you keep to the conditions the case doesn't have to go back to court.

Court order to dismiss the case

The court may decide that your case should be dismissed because there is no reason why you should be evicted.

This is also known as striking out a case.

Your case could be dismissed if your landlord:

  • does not have the right to apply for possession
  • has not proved to the court that there is a legal reason to evict you (when this necessary)
  • has not followed the correct procedure for bringing the case to court

If the case is dismissed you have the right to remain in your home with the same conditions as before.

Money judgment

A money judgment is an order that says that you have to pay what you owe to your landlord, regardless of whether you are evicted.

A money judgment affects your credit rating. This could make it more difficult to find a new home.

Order for court costs

The court may decide you must pay some or all of your landlord's legal costs.

This can happen if:

  • a possession order is made
  • the case is adjourned
  • you leave the property after your landlord starts the court case but before the order is made

Getting a court order changed

You might be able to apply to the court to have a possession order cancelled or suspended.

Find out how to ask the court to change a possession order.

Get help and advice

You may qualify for legal aid (free advice or representation) if you're on a low income:

Call Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 to see if you qualify

You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:

Call our emergency helpline for initial telephone advice

Look for a Shelter service in your area

Have your notice and court paperwork with you when you speak to an adviser.

Help at court

It's always best to get legal advice and representation before your hearing.

If you can't you might be able to get help at court from a duty adviser: 

Find out more about court duty schemes

Last updated 26 Apr 2017 | © Shelter

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