We thought the following flow chart and information relating to the process of gaining legal possession of a property may be of use to all the landlords out there. The flow chart and information is taken from the Ministry of Justice.
To obtain a court order granting the entitlement to take possession of a property, a claimant – a mortgage lender or a landlord – must first make a claim which is then issued by a county court. Generally, the issuing process involves the arrangement of an initial hearing before a judge. At such a hearing, a judge may:
- · grant an order for outright possession of the property at a date decided by the judge;
- · grant a suspended order for possession of the property; or,
- · grant no order for possession (e.g. after deciding the claimant has no legal right to take possession of the property).
The suspended order for possession of the property usually requires the defendant to pay the latest mortgage or rent instalment, plus some of the arrears that have built up, within a certain defined period. As long as the defendant complies with the terms of the suspension, the possession order cannot be enforced.
More than one order may be granted during the course of an individual case. For example, it is possible that after an initial possession order is granted, the defendant may make an application to the court for the order to be varied or set aside, which could then result in another order being made.
A granted order entitles the claimant to apply for a warrant to have the defendant evicted by bailiffs, so taking possession of the property. Only then does repossession occur. Actual repossession figures (including voluntary repossessions such as where the mortgagee or tenant hands back the keys) are only available for mortgages and are compiled by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
Throughout the court process, even where a warrant for possession is issued, the claimant and defendant can still negotiate a compromise arrangement to prevent eviction.
A flow chart showing the court process of possessing a property for landlords and mortgage lenders
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