What is a possession order?

Find out about the 2 main types of court order if you're facing eviction.

No evictions by bailiffs will take place between 17 November and 11 January except in very limited circumstances.

Evictions can go ahead where the court has made an order because:

  • there was antisocial behaviour
  • you owed more than 9 months' rent before 23 March 2020

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 order?

A possession order is a court instruction about your home.

Your landlord applies for a possession order when they want you to leave.

There are 2 types of possession order:

  • an outright order 
  • a suspended order 

A possession order is made by a judge, usually at a possession hearing.

If your landlord uses the accelerated section 21 procedure there might not be a hearing unless the judge thinks one is needed.

Outright possession orders

An outright order sets a date for you to leave. This will usually be 2 weeks after the order is made.

With a section 21 eviction the court must make an outright order if the notice is valid. Most private landlords use this eviction process.

The court might also make an outright order if you're being evicted for a legal reason. For example:

You can ask the court to delay the possession date on an outright order for up to 6 weeks if it would cause you hardship to leave earlier. For example, if you're ill or have young children.

Suspended possession orders

A suspended order allows you to stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions.

These conditions are explained on the order. For example, you may be told to pay off any rent you owe on a weekly basis or be told not to cause further disturbance to your neighbours.

When you can be evicted

Your landlord can apply for bailiffs if you:

  • stay past the date on an outright order
  • break the conditions in a suspended order

The bailiffs must give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

Find out more about when you can apply to stop an eviction. This is usually only possible if your landlord used a discretionary ground. 

The court can't usually stop an eviction if a landlord uses the section 21 process.

Find out what happens on the day of an eviction.

Is a possession order a CCJ?

A possession order doesn't count as a county court judgment (CCJ). Your credit rating won't automatically be affected by eviction.

If you have rent arrears, your landlord might ask for a money judgement or money order when they apply to evict you or after you've left.

A money order is a CCJ. It will appear on your credit report and could affect your credit rating. 

Find out more from Citizens Advice about CCJs and your credit rating.

Getting a possession order changed

You may be able to get a possession order changed if:

  • your landlord used a discretionary ground
  • you have new information for the court to consider

You can't usually ask the court to change a possession order with a section 21 eviction.

You may be able to get the possession order set aside if your section 21 is invalid. For example, if the judge made a mistake or didn't have all the information when they made the order. 

Get legal advice before you apply to set aside a possession order.

Last updated 18 November 2020 | © Shelter

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