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 can end 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)
You may be able to appeal against the decision if your landlord didn't follow the correct procedure and the judge made the possession order in error.
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 an outright 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 it was reasonable to evict you.
Rent arrears is often a discretionary ground.
You could apply to the court to:
- suspend or postpone the date for possession
- vary the terms of the order
- change an outright possession order to a suspended possession order
You may also be able to apply to have the possession order set aside (cancelled).
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 the order shouldn't have been made.
When deciding if a possession order should be set aside, the court considers if you:
- acted quickly after finding out about the possession order
- had a good reason for not attending the court hearing
- would have had a reasonable prospect of success if you had gone to the court hearing
It usually looks 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 have 14 days from the date you get the possession order to apply to the court to set aside the order.
You could apply to set aside the order if it shouldn't have been made because the section 21 notice your landlord gave you wasn't valid.
Ask to change a possession order
Possession orders can be 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.
When an outright possession order was made on a discretionary ground you can ask the court to change it to a postponed or suspended possession order.
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.
Use court form N161 to appeal against the decision to make a possession order.
Get help and advice
An adviser or solicitor can help you apply to court.
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.
Last updated 10 May 2017 | © Shelter
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