Find out when and how you can ask the court to change or cancel a possession order.
When a possession order can be changed
The court can change a possession order made on a discretionary ground.
A discretionary ground means that if your landlord can prove the ground, the court decides if it's reasonable to end your tenancy.
You can ask the court to:
- make an outright order into a suspended order
- postpone the date for possession to a later date
- change the terms of a suspended or postponed order
For example, you can ask for the level of rent arrears instalments set in the order to be reduced if it's unaffordable for you.
You should do this before you break the terms of the original order.
When it can't be changed
The court can't change the order if it's made on a mandatory ground. For example, Ground 8 - serious rent arrears - for assured and assured shorthold tenants.
A court can't usually change a possession order if you're an:
- introductory tenant
- demoted council tenant
- occupier with basic protection
- assured shorthold tenant being evicted under the section 21 procedure
You can appeal to a higher judge within 21 days if the original judge made the possession order in error. There are costs attached to an appeal and you should get further legal advice.
How to get a possession order changed
Use court form N244.
Read the guidance notes first. You may need to attach other information for the court to consider. For example, a financial statement.
If you've broken the terms of an order it's important to explain why this happened and how you would stop it happening again.
You have to pay £50. You can get help with court fees if you receive certain benefits or have a low income.
Cancelling a possession order
The court can cancel a possession order in certain limited situations. This is called setting aside.
You can apply on court form N244.
When a possession order is set aside the court can arrange another hearing to look at the case again and make a new decision.
If the order was made without a hearing
The court can make a possession order without a hearing if your landlord used the section 21 accelerated possession procedure.
You have 14 days from when you get the order to ask for it to be set aside.
This is only worth doing if you have a defence that the judge didn't spot or was unaware of at the time they made the order.
For example, if your section 21 notice was invalid.
If you missed the hearing
The court can sometimes set a possession order aside if you didn't attend the hearing.
You will usually need to show that you
- acted quickly when you found out about the order
- had a good reason for not attending the court hearing, for example serious illness
- would have had a reasonable chance of the order not being made if you had been there
Get help and advice
An adviser or solicitor can help you apply to court.
You may qualify for (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.
Last updated 10 May 2017 | © Shelter
If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help