Residential Possession Proceedings
Facing possession proceedings can be very daunting. Tenants can often feel overwhelmed by learning that their landlord is seeking to evict them. Every case is different and the law in this area can be complex and technical.
Our specialist housing lawyers are experienced in defending possession proceedings for a very wide range of clients who are tenants of local authorities, housing associations, other social landlords, and private landlords. Possession proceedings can arise for a number of reasons including allegations of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or other breaches of tenancy.
Private landlords are also able in some circumstances to seek possession of a property on a “no-fault” basis, but this depends on their following a proper process; our team is experienced in recognising failures by landlords in these situations which can give rise to a defence.
Our team is able to respond quickly and creatively when faced with possession proceedings, looking not only at the immediate threat of eviction but also at underlying issues including disrepair, difficulties with benefits and whether accommodation is suitable and affordable in the long term.
Where appropriate we will advise you on the possibility of bringing counterclaims for issues including disrepair and for breaches of deposit protection legislation.
We can also assist with mortgage possession proceedings and, where possible, will try to assist in negotiating an amicable settlement with your mortgage company.
While we would encourage you to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity when faced with possession proceedings, we can also assist in some circumstances in seeking to suspend a warrant of possession, following the court making an order for possession. If you receive notice that bailiffs are to attend your property to evict you, you should seek advice as soon as possible as it can be possible at this stage to suspend the eviction on terms, usually involving a payment plan.
What do I need to do?
If you are concerned that your landlord is planning to attempt to recover possession of your home you should seek legal advice at an early stage.
If you are experiencing problems with rent arrears as a result of your benefits stopping you should ensure that you request a review or an appeal of the decision by the benefit authority within the relevant time limit. For more information see our welfare benefits page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is legal aid available for defending possession claims?
Yes, this is an area for which legal aid is available and Osbornes Law have a legal aid contract in Housing law.
When should I seek legal advice regarding possession proceedings?
If we are to assist you under our Housing legal aid contract the legal aid rules provide that we are not able to provide assistance until you have been served with a notice by your landlord informing you that the landlord wishes to recover possession.
If I have a private sector tenancy is there anything I can do if my landlord wants to evict me on “no fault” grounds?
Whilst landlords under assured shorthold tenancies can recover possession on “no fault” grounds under s21 of the Housing Act 1988, there are a range of potential defences to such claims based on whether the landlord has complied with certain duties. For example, a landlord can be prevented from relying on a s21 Notice if they have failed to comply with relevant rules regarding the protection of tenancy deposits.
What happens at the first hearing at Court?
Once a claim is issued the Court will list a hearing. At that hearing the court must decide whether the claim for possession is ‘genuinely disputed on grounds which appear to be substantial’. If the claim contested, the court is likely to make case management directions, including a direction for a defence to be filed and served, if this has not already happened. However, if the court is able to decide the case on the evidence before it the Court can do so at the first hearing.
Do I have more rights if my landlord is a local authority or housing association?
If you have a secure tenancy with a local authority, or an assured tenancy with a housing association, you do have more rights than private sector tenants. You cannot be evicted from these tenancies on a “no fault” basis. It will be necessary for the landlord to prove that a ground of possession is met. Some of those grounds will also require that the Court considers it to be reasonable, in all the circumstances, to make a possession order. Other grounds are known as “mandatory grounds” of possession, which simply require the conditions of the ground to be made out, and do not permit the Court to consider whether or not it would be reasonable to make a possession order.
To discuss your personal situation and how we can help you, call 020 7485 8811 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.