What is the Accelerated Possession Procedure?

If you’re a landlord, it’s likely that you’ll encounter difficult tenants at some point. In some cases, the best course of action is to terminate the tenancy and take back possession of your property.

However, if your tenants are refusing to leave, it can be a long and frustrating process to regain control of your property. This is where an accelerated possession order can be a useful tool for landlords.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what an accelerated possession order is, how it works, and what you need to do to obtain one.

Whether you’re a new landlord or an experienced property owner, understanding the process of obtaining an accelerated possession order can help you to take control of your property and protect your investment.

a tenant reading an accelerated possessiokn order

When can a landlord use the accelerated possession procedure?

If you’re a landlord, there may come a time when you need to evict a tenant from your rental property.

While this is never an easy or desirable situation, it’s important to know what options are available to you under the law. One such option is an Accelerated Possession Order (APO), which is a legal process that allows landlords to quickly and easily regain possession of their property without the need for a court hearing.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what an APO is, how it works, and the circumstances in which it may be the best course of action for a landlord. Find out more about this here.

When does a landlord have to use the possession order?

A landlord may need to use a possession order to legally evict a tenant from a rental property when the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, failed to pay rent, or is otherwise in violation of their tenancy obligations.

In most cases, landlords will need to serve their tenants with a notice before applying for a possession order. The type of notice will depend on the circumstances of the eviction, but commonly used notices include a Section 8 Notice, which is used when the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, or a Section 21 Notice, which is used when the landlord wants to end the tenancy without any specific fault on the part of the tenant.

The tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord can apply to the court for a possession order. An accelerated possession order can be particularly useful in cases where the tenant has failed to vacate the property after receiving a Section 21 Notice.

It’s important for landlords to follow the correct legal procedures when evicting a tenant, as failure to do so can result in legal action being taken against them. Seeking professional advice from a solicitor or housing expert can help ensure that the eviction process is carried out correctly and in accordance with the law.

How long does an accelerated possession order take?

The length of time it takes to obtain an accelerated possession order (APO) in the UK can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, how busy the courts are, and whether the tenant decides to contest the order.

In general, an APP can be obtained more quickly than a standard possession order, as there is no need for a court hearing. Once the application has been submitted, it typically takes between 4-6 weeks for the court to issue the possession order, although in some cases it can be issued more quickly.

After the possession order has been issued, the tenant will be given a set period of time to vacate the property. If they fail to do so, the landlord can apply to the court for a warrant of possession, which allows a bailiff to evict the tenant.

It’s worth noting that the process can be delayed if there are any errors or mistakes in the paperwork, so it’s important to ensure that all the necessary documents are completed accurately and submitted on time. Seeking the advice of a legal professional can help ensure that the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible.

a tenant using insurance to dispute apo

How much does it cost to apply for an Accelerated Possession Order?

At the time of writing, it currently costs £355 to apply for an accelerated possession order, plus legal fees if a solicitor is instructed. The fee is the same for a standard possession order.

How to apply for the accelerated possession procedure

It must be properly served on all tenants or occupants involved. This means that you need to provide them with a copy of Court Form N5b as well as any other relevant documents.

You should also complete Court Form N119 hire – Certificate of Service to prove that Court Form N5b has been served correctly. Failure to do this could result in your case being delayed or thrown out.

You are also required to provide Court Form N5b and Court Form N119A – Certificate of Service to the court when you file your possession claim.

It is important that you make sure Court Form N5b is correctly filled in with all the necessary information, such as names, addresses, property details etc. Failure to do this could also result in delays or a rejection of your claim.

Making sure Court Form N5b seen here, is properly used and served can be tricky, so it’s always wise to seek legal advice from a solicitor before proceeding with your repossession case.

An experienced solicitor will be able to guide you through the process and help ensure that Court Form N5b is used correctly and all necessary steps.

What can a landlord do if not eligible to serve an accelerated possession order?

The landlord is usually responsible for repairs to the outside of the property and to the inside, including fixtures and fittings, plumbing, gas appliances and ventilation, electrical wiring, and the upkeep of communal areas.

As a landlord, you should also let the tenants know when the repairs will be carried out.

For fixed-term tenancy agreements, the rent can usually be reviewed either at the end of the term or if the tenant agrees. You must give at least one month’s notice and follow the steps in the agreement.

Any increases must also be ‘fair and realistic’, so check other rentals in the area or ask your lettings agent for an indication of how much to charge. 

You can ask a tenant to leave if you want the property back at the end of a fixed-term (known as a Section 21 notice) or if they break the agreement (Section 8 notice).

You’ll need to follow strict guidelines and seek legal advice; however, here is a good place to start if you think you have grounds to evict a tenant. 

At the end of the tenancy, you will usually receive a check-out report. If there’s damage to the property or unpaid rent, you can suggest a reasonable deduction to cover the costs.

If the tenant disputes this amount, you should contact the Deposit Protection Scheme for help resolving the situation. 

apo

Criteria to be met before serving a section 21 notice

The tenancy must be an assured shorthold tenancy. If the original tenancy agreement with the tenant is dated between 15 January 1989 and 28 February 1997, you must have served a notice on the tenant before this tenancy started, stating that it’s an assured shorthold tenancy agreement; this is called a ‘section 20’ notice (because it’s served under section 20 of the Housing Act 1988).

If the original tenancy agreement was made on or after 28 February 1997, none of the tenants may be employed in agriculture, whether full time or under a permit; otherwise the ‘agricultural worker condition’ (defined in schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1988) may apply and legal advice should be taken before you proceed.

You must have a written assured shorthold tenancy agreement with the tenant; stamp duty must have been paid if the tenancy started before 1 December 2003.

You must have served notice of your address where the tenant can serve notices on you.

The tenancy agreement must include an address in England or Wales where the tenant can contact you and where notices may be served; if it doesn’t, you must have served a notice on the tenant (under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987) giving such an address.

You (or your agent) must have registered the tenancy deposit in an authorised scheme (and given the tenant the required information about the scheme) – see deposit protection criteria below and see Registering the deposit.

For new and renewed fixed-term tenancies that began on or after 1 June 2019:

If you’ve received a banned fee, you must have repaid it.

If you’ve received a holding deposit before the start of the tenancy, you must have repaid it unless you were legally entitled to keep it. If the holding deposit was more than 1 week’s rent, you must have repaid the portion that was more than 1 week’s rent (and the rest, unless you were legally entitled to keep it). See Fees ban.

As well as the above criteria, you must make sure that:

You (or your agent) have obtained (or applied for) a licence if the property is classed as an HMO, or is in a local authority area that’s subject to licensing – see Overview of registration and licensing.

You’re not seeking possession as a ‘retaliatory eviction’ (see below)

You’ve given the tenant the following documents free of charge:

An energy performance certificate – see Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A gas safety certificate – see Gas safety certificate

For tenancies that started on or after 1 October 2015 – How to rent checklist: The checklist for renting in England (published by the Department for Communities and Local Government)

If you’ve given the tenant this publication during a previous tenancy (for the same property between the same parties), you didn’t need to give them another copy at the start of the current tenancy as long as you gave them the current version when the current tenancy started.

Retaliatory eviction

A retaliatory eviction occurs when a landlord uses an eviction notice in response to a tenant complaint.

Assured Shorthold Tenants (ASTs) are at greatest risk from retaliatory eviction as a notice seeking possession served under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 does not require a landlord to give a reason for requiring possession. The law changed in 2015 and prevents retaliatory eviction if the Council have served certain legal notices. 

agreement for apo

Can the landlord collect the due rent when using the accelerated possession?

A s.21 notice comes in a prescribed form and allows you to obtain a possession order. It will not allow you to claim for any rent arrears or other issues. A claim relying on a section 21 notice is a no fault claim.

You are merely stating to the tenants and court that you are the landlord and want possession of the property back.

The benefits of a section 21 notice are that there are only very limited circumstances when a tenant can defend s21 possession claims, such as if the notice itself is not valid (the most common form of defence).

In usual circumstances the s21 procedure will be dealt with on paper and will not involve a hearing unless either the tenant raises an issue or a judge looking at the papers spots an issue and decides to list a hearing anyway.

A section 21 notice cannot be served in the first 4 months of a tenancy. Due to coronavirus legislation the notice period has been extended to 6 months and cannot expire before the end of the fixed/assured term. If the tenant remains in the property beyond then you are entitled to issue a claim.

There are other important requirements to be considered before a valid section 21 notice can be served. We detail these within our eviction guide here.

How can a tenant challenge an accelerated possession order?

As a landlord, you may want to repossess your property for several reasons. It may be that you have a problem tenant who is refusing to pay rent or damaging the property, or it may simply be that the tenancy agreement is coming to an end, and you need to reclaim or sell your property.

However, many landlords find that the process can be fraught with legal pitfalls, further complicated during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the government provided additional protection to rental tenants.

If the tenant ignores an eviction order

You must not evict the tenant yourself.

If the court makes an absolute order for possession and the tenant doesn’t leave by the date stated in the possession order, you must:

Apply to the court for a warrant for possession – using court form N325.

Send this form to the court, with a cheque for the court fee made payable to HMCTS. To find the amount of the court fee, see leaflet EX50 on the Court Service website.

The court will arrange for court bailiffs to evict the tenant on your behalf.

Be aware that if the tenant doesn’t move out by the date stated in the possession order and you ask them to pay rent, the court could rule that a new tenancy has arisen. You may be entitled to be paid damages if they remain.

agreement for accelerated possession order

To conclude

In conclusion, accelerated possession orders can be a useful tool for landlords seeking to regain possession of their property quickly and efficiently.

However, it is important to ensure that all legal requirements have been met before pursuing this option, as failure to do so can result in delays and additional costs.

Tenants also have rights in the possession process and it is crucial for landlords to follow proper procedures to ensure that these rights are respected. As with any legal matter, seeking professional advice and guidance can help ensure a smoother and more successful process for all parties involved.

FAQ

What’s the fastest a landlord can evict you?

The fastest way for a landlord to evict a tenant in the UK is through a Section 8 notice, but the process can still take several weeks to several months, depending on the circumstances and when court is involved, even accelerated possession orders may take longer

How long does it take to evict a tenant in UK?

Evicting a tenant in the UK can take several weeks to several months, depending on the eviction process, tenant’s cooperation, and any legal proceedings

What happens after an accelerated possession order

After obtaining an accelerated possession order, the tenant is given a deadline to vacate the property voluntarily. If they don’t, the court can issue a warrant involving bailiffs

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donnell-bailey

Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.

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