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Orders the court can make: Assured tenancies

This content applies to England

Possession orders the court can make against assured tenants and security of tenure after the order.

Court powers and orders

The court has the power to decide the case at the first hearing, or adjourn proceedings and make case management directions as it sees fit. Private registered providers of social housing (PRPSH) should agree to adjourn if the tenant has been complying with an agreement to pay their current rent and an amount of the arrears.[1]

If the court decides not to adjourn proceedings and considers that the ground for possession has not been proved, the case will be dismissed/struck out.

If the matter is not adjourned and the court considers the ground for possession has been proved, it will make one of the following orders:

  • if the ground for possession is a mandatory ground (grounds 1 to 8), it will usually make an outright/absolute order[2]
  • if the ground is discretionary (grounds 9 to 17), and the court is satisfied that it is reasonable to order possession, it can make an outright order or postponed/suspended order
  • if the ground is discretionary (grounds 9 to 17) but the court is not satisfied that it is reasonable to order possession, it will not order possession. The court may dismiss the claim, though it also has the power to adjourn the proceedings on terms as for a postponed or suspended possession order
  • if the court finds that the tenant has been guilty of antisocial behaviour, it can make a demotion order
  • if the court finds that one or more (but not all) of joint tenants have no right to rent, the court can order that the interest of any disqualified tenant is transferred to a tenant who qualifies to rent.

Status after the order

An assured tenant remains an assured tenant until such time as the possession order is enforced and actual eviction takes place - regardless of whether the possession order is outright or postponed/suspended.[3]

Outright/absolute order

Where the court is satisfied that the landlord has proved a mandatory ground, the judge will usually make an outright order for possession on Form N26. However, where the landlord is a public authority (see PRPSHs and judicial review) the court should consider adjourning pending an application for judicial review where the tenant has a serious argument that it is disproportionate to breach her/his Article 8 rights by making an order for possession. See the introduction on the page Mandatory grounds for further information.

The court will normally order that possession will take effect in 14 days, although in cases of 'exceptional hardship' the date of possession can be postponed for up to 42 days. Exceptional hardship is not defined.[4]

An outright order could also be made when a discretionary ground for possession is proved, if the court considers that it is reasonable to grant possession and the judge decides that possession is not to be suspended or postponed on terms. Where an outright order is made on discretionary grounds the 42 days postponement limit does not apply[5] and the judge can exercise her/his discretion on when the order will take effect.

After the possession order takes effect the landlord can apply for a bailiff's warrant to evict the tenant.

Postponed or suspended orders

An order can be postponed or suspended for a period, or indefinitely, on terms. Common examples of terms are the repayment of rent arrears in instalments, or ceasing antisocial behaviour. For more information see page Possession orders.

Demotion order

As an alternative to seeking possession PRPSHs can apply for demotion orders in cases of antisocial behaviour.[6] If an assured tenant of a social landlord is subject to a demotion order, this will end the assured tenancy and replace it with a demoted assured shorthold tenancy. This is an ordinary assured shorthold tenancy except that there is nothing to prevent the landlord obtaining a possession order during the first six months of the tenancy, where it has given notice in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

The period of demotion will initially be for 12 months, but may be extended if the landlord serves notice to seek possession of the property during this period. See the section on Demoted tenancies for more information.

Transfer of tenancy order

A court may order, as an alternative to granting possession to the landlord, that a joint tenant who is disqualified under the right to rent provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 may have her/his interest transferred to any other joint tenant(s) who has a right to rent.[7] This order does not remove any rights or liabilities of the disqualified person that accrued before the order, and nor does it create a new tenancy. This means that if the tenancy was a fixed term, it will end at the same time as if no transfer order had been made.

[1] Pre-action Protocol for Possession Claims based on Rent Arrears, Civil Procedure Rules SI 1998/3132, as amended.

[2] s.9(6) Housing Act 1988.

[3] Knowsley Housing Trust v White; Porter v Shepherds Bush Housing Association; Honeygan-Green v Islington LBC [2008] UKHL 70.

[4] s.89 Housing Act 1980.

[5] s.89(2)(c) Housing Act 1980.

[6] s.20B Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.15 Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.

[7] s.10A Housing Act 1988, inserted by s.41(5) Immigration Act 2016 (in force with effect from 1 December 2016).

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