Recovering possession of your property

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Essential steps for successfully recovering possession of a property

  • Without a tenant unequivocally surrendering their tenancy, the only way to gain possession of your property lawfully is to obtain an order for possession from the court.
  • If you need to recover possession of a property, there are a number of stages that you should follow.

What is recovering possession of your property?

Recovering possession of your property involves legally regaining control of your belongings that have been taken or withheld from you. This can be done through a court order or negotiation with the person in possession. It is important to have evidence of ownership and to follow the proper legal procedures to ensure a successful recovery.

Step 1 – File review

Firstly, it is important that the circumstances surrounding your tenancy agreement and potential claim for possession are reviewed so any potential issues can be identified, mitigated or rectified.

As the law surrounding possession procedure can be treacherous, this review is important ensuring that you can begin your claim for possession with the confidence that you are likely to be successful.

Step 2 – Formal legal notice seeking possession

Before court proceedings can be issued, a notice seeking possession must be served to comply with the requirements of the Housing Act 1988. There are two types of notice seeking possession:

Section 8: This notice is used in circumstances where the tenant has breached a term of the agreement, for example if they have failed to pay rent.

Section 21: This notice is used when the fixed term has come to an end and you want possession of your property, or to exercise a break clause. This notice is served on a without fault basis, therefore the court must make an order for possession, unless there is a technical issue or credible defence to the possession claim.

Chris Marsden

Chris Marsden

Partner | Real estate disputes

023 8202 5036

Step 3 – Court proceedings

If, after the formal notice seeking possession has expired, the tenant fails to vacate the property or make good their breach, court proceedings must be issued in order to gain possession of the property.

There are two types of procedure: the Accelerated procedure; and the Standard procedure.

Accelerated procedure

This route can only be used if you are seeking possession only and a section 21 notice seeking possession has been served and expired. Provided the section 21 notice is valid, and the deposit requirements have been met, the court must make an order for possession and has no discretion to order otherwise. This route is intended to be a paper-based exercise and is usually dealt with without the need for a hearing. However, should a tenant file a defence to the possession claim, the matter may be listed for a hearing.

Standard procedure

This route is used where the landlord wants possession of the property and there has been a breach by the tenant of the terms of the tenancy agreement. Issuing using the standard procedures allows you to include a money claim (e.g. for outstanding arrears) alongside your claim for possession.

Step 4 – Eviction

If the tenant refuses or fails to vacate the property once a court order for possession has expired, a bailiff will need to be instructed to remove the tenant and gain possession of the property. Even with a court order for possession, it is a criminal offence for a landlord or their managing agent to evict a tenant themselves.

We have offices in LondonRichmondSouthamptonGuildfordLymington and Woking and offer specialist property dispute legal services to clients nationwide. Contact Moore Barlow to find out how we can help you and your family.

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Further advice…

Funding your dispute when going to court

Look at the different options you have for funding available to you if your case ends up going to court.

Managing the risks involved in a dispute

Make informed decisions on how you will deal with your dispute, by understanding the risks involved.

Contact our property dispute team

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