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.

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

There might not be a hearing if your landlord uses the accelerated section 21 procedure.

There are 2 types of possession order:

  • an outright order 

  • a suspended order 

The advice on this page is for tenants.

Find out more about possession orders if you have mortgage arrears.

Outright possession orders

An outright order sets a date for possession. It's not the same as an eviction date.

The possession date is often 2 weeks after the order is made.

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

If you stay past the possession date, your landlord can apply for court bailiffs to evict you.

The court must make an outright order if your landlord gives you a valid section 21 notice.

The court could also make an outright order if your landlord wants to evict you for a legal reason. For example:

Suspended possession orders

suspended order lets you to stay in your home as long as you keep to conditions.

The conditions are explained on the order. For example, you might be told to pay your rent plus a set amount towards your arrears each month.

The court can only make a suspended order if your landlord uses a discretionary ground.

A discretionary ground means the judge can:

  • decide if it's reasonable to make a possession order

  • choose to suspend the possession order as long as you stick to the conditions

When you can be evicted

Your landlord can apply for a bailiffs warrant 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.

Sometimes you can stop an eviction. This is usually only possible if your landlord used a discretionary ground. 

The court cannot usually stop an eviction if your 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 does not count as a county court judgment (CCJ).

It does not affect your credit rating.

If you owe rent, your landlord might also apply for a money order or judgment:

  • when they apply for a possession order

  • after you've left or been evicted

Mortgage lenders usually apply for a money order at the same time as a possession order.

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

Find out about CCJs and your credit score from Citizens Advice.

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

Discretionary grounds are legal reasons for eviction where the court can choose to make an outright possession order. Most private landlords do not use these grounds.

You cannot usually ask the court to change a possession order with a section 21 eviction.

You might get the possession order set aside if:

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

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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