What happens at a possession hearing
No evictions by bailiffs will take place until after 31 March except in very limited circumstances.
Evictions may still go ahead if the landlord has proved either:
at least 6 months' rent arrears
The courts will continue to process cases during lockdown. You still need to read any letters from the court and attend the hearing if there is one.
What is a possession hearing?
A possession hearing is part of the eviction process.
A judge looks at your case and decides if an eviction can go ahead.
Sometimes they can decide to let you stay in your home.
New court procedures in place from 21 September mean that the judge will usually set a date for the possession hearing on the review date for your case.
There may not be a review date or a possession hearing with a section 21 eviction.
What is the review date?
The review date is a new stage in the eviction process.
The court schedules a review date for your case once your landlord starts or reactivates the eviction process.
Some cases may be prioritised for a review sooner than others. For example: antisocial behaviour or very high rent arrears.
You will get a 'notice of review'. You don't need to attend court on the review date.
You can contact a court duty adviser by phone on the day to get free legal help.
When your hearing will take place
The possession hearing will usually be 4 weeks after the review date.
You get a 'notice of possession hearing' from the court with the time and date.
Who should attend the hearing
You should always attend the hearing, or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you can't. For example, sudden and serious ill health.
You can bring a legal representative, such as an adviser or solicitor with you.
Coronavirus safety measures mean that you're unlikely to be able to bring friends or family members, but you could check this in advance with your local court.
Arriving at court for a hearing
Possession hearings usually take place at your local county court.
Check the exact location on your possession hearing notice. Different buildings are being used by some courts as a coronavirus safety measure
You should attend in person unless everyone has agreed to a remote hearing by phone or video.
Follow your local court's guidance on coronavirus safety measures.
Find out about attending a hearing during the coronavirus outbreak on GOV.UK.
Help from the court duty scheme
The duty adviser can give you free legal advice and speak to the judge for you.
The notice of possession hearing sets out how to contact them.
They might be there in person or available by phone or videocall.
What to bring
Take the bundle of documents you received before the review to the hearing.
If you received these by email, it's a good idea to email them to your adviser.
Bring any letters or other evidence that show you can make payments. For example:
letters about housing benefit
information on your phone about universal credit
payslips or a letter to say you’re starting a new job
Bring the notice and any other letters from your landlord, council or housing association.
What happens during the hearing
The hearing will only last about 15 minutes.
A judge will look at the evidence from your landlord, council or housing association, and from you before making a decision.
Your landlord's representative will speak first. Then you or your adviser can respond.
You should call the judge ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Be polite and try not to interrupt. Keep your phone on silent.
What the court can decide
This can depend on the type of tenancy you have, and the eviction process used by your landlord.
With a section 21 eviction, the judge must:
make an outright possession order - if your notice is valid
dismiss the case - if your notice is not valid
Find out more about what the court can decide if you're a:
council or housing association tenant facing eviction for rent arrears
council or housing association tenant facing eviction for antisocial behaviour
Last updated: 15 February 2021