Speedy evictions – The whys and whereforesMake Text Bigger
Much has been said recently regarding the so called ‘Speedy Evictions’ offered by High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) and I thought it sensible to give you an honest insight of this service.
OK, first things first is why would you need to use an HCEO?
Unfortunately, due to significant cuts in the Court Service the delays in enforcing an order for possession by a County Court Bailiff (CCB) are usually considerable, often ranging anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks. We have heard of one Court recently quoting nearer 6 months. In comparison, most HCEOs can carry out an eviction within days.
What law is used to transfer the eviction to an HCEO?
By virtue of Section 42 County Court Act 1984 a matter can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement. The order itself remains with the County Court, it is literally just the enforcement aspect that is transferred the the High Court.
Is the tenant always notified of the eviction date?
This has many people divided and I can see both sides of the argument. A CCB will always send notification of an impending eviction. This will allow the tenant to prepare for the eviction and making other arrangements for housing and hopefully packing and leaving before the day of the eviction. Some would argue it allows the tenant time to delay proceedings initiating further court applications with the sole intent of buying time (and costing the Landlord further in the process). At present, HCEOs are not required to give such notice although I believe it sensible to do so. It is therefore at the Landlord’s instruction as to whether my firm send notification first.
OK, I want to use an HCEO, can I?
The decision to permit the transfer of enforcement to the High Court is, ultimately, at the discretion of a Judge. My office has seen significant inconsistencies across Courts in the UK. It is clear to us that requesting this in your initial application for possession has better results than requesting it after the order has been granted. The request MUST include the reason for the transfer. This will almost certainly be the delays by the CCB and the loss of income and potential damage to the property. We are happy to give advice on specific wording which works in our experience.
I’ve got my S42 transfer, what now?
If the tenants don’t leave before the possession date, you can now instruct an HCEO, who will apply for the writ of possession (a court fee of £60 is payable), and then conduct the eviction.
Is it more expensive to use an HCEO than a CCB?
In a word, Yes. HCEOs charge anywhere from £300 to around £800 for a standard residential eviction compared to the £110 for a CCB. It’s a commercial decision and will come down to whether you are prepared to lose the potential rental income from the CCB delays.
Can I recover my rent arrears also?
If you are also owed rent arrears on the property, you can add a claim for money to the possession order, so that you do not need to apply separately for a judgment and writ of control. However, there is currently an anomaly where from April the HCEO must give 7 clear days notice of the intention to enforce the debt aspect. If you are not notifying the tenant of the eviction this could make them aware of the intended visit. If you do notify them then it could mean the HCEO can seize any goods on site if they are of any value (most aren’t).
What else should I know?
It is true that HCEOs are often more determined than the CCB and will succeed where the occupants are difficult, sometimes barricading themselves in, climbing onto roofs and assaulting enforcement agents. We have great experience in the eviction of difficult tenants but you should be aware that the costs will often increase for this service.
So, who should I use?
Well, if the CCB can do the job promptly and your tenants will not put up too much of a fight, that is the obvious way to go. If not, the the HCEO is your man. Simple!
David Carter is Chief Executive of The Sheriffs Office, a company of authorised High Court Enforcement Officers and Certificated Bailiffs.
— Property118.com (@Property118) October 15, 2014
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