Court orders for the repossession of a home

Content owner : Last updated : 05/03/11

My landlord is applying for a Court order to repossess my home - What will happen at the hearing?

A judge will decide whether or not to make an order for possession. In making this decision, the judge will take account of the information provided by the claimant. The judge will also take account of any information you provide, such as details of your personal and financial circumstances, any proposal you have made to pay off any arrears and any dispute you have about the amount owing.

The judge can only take the information into account if you provide it. You should fill in these details in the defence form and attend the hearing. It is in your best interests to do both.

What kind of orders can the judge make?

The judge can:

  • Decide not to make an order for possession.
  • Make an order for possession but suspend it. This means that you will not have to give up possession so long as you can pay off any arrears in a reasonable time (the judge will decide how long) and pay the rent as well.
  • Make a possession order for some future date to allow you time to move out or find somewhere else to live.
  • Make an order that you give up possession a very short time ahead.

Getting help

For advice on the meaning of the court orders please contact the Rent Assist Team or an independent advice agency such as CHAS Housing Aid or the Citizens Advice Bureaux.

If you fail to maintain the re-payments as per your court order you may lose your tenancy. Again, you must seek advice from the Rent Assist Team or an independent agency such as CHAS or CAB. This is particularly important whether or not you disagree with the claim since these notes cannot cover every different type of tenancy.

Court staff can only help you complete the defence form and tell you about court procedures. They cannot give legal advice.

Replying to the claim

Although you should normally fill in the defence form and return it to the court within 14 days, the court will accept your defence at any time before, or even at, the hearing. You should note, however, that if you do return the form after the 14-day period, the court may order you to pay any costs caused by the delay.

Paying any arrears

The court cannot accept payments. If you want to pay all or part of any arrears, send them to the claimant at the address for payment shown on the claim form, quoting the claimant's reference number, if one is given. Make sure you have a receipt for all payments made. Proof may be required if there is any disagreement. Make sure you include on your defence form details of any payments you have made since the claim was issued, saying how much was paid, to whom and when.

Enforcement of a possession order

Once the court has granted a possession order, your landlord can apply to the County Court for a Warrant of Possession to evict you from your home. This usually happens when you do not keep up with your payments as per the court order.

If your circumstances change and you can no longer afford your re-payments you must apply to the court to ask for the order to be varied - there may be a fee for this service.

Registration of judgements

If a county court makes a money judgment (e.g. for rent arrears and costs) your name and address will be entered in the Register of County Court Judgments if the claimant has to take steps to enforce the judgment. This may make it difficult for you to obtain credit.

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