Speedy evictions – The whys and wherefores

Speedy evictions – The whys and wherefores

17:56 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago 17

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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. Speedy evictions - The whys and wherefores

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.

Contact The Sheriffs Office

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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:08 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "17/10/2014 - 11:31":

Hi David

I will call you to follow up on this but this is generally what I will be saying:-

My recommended first step is to advise your members of the campaign structure and to persuade them of the advantages to them of writing to their local MP's asking for support. It is important to spoon feed your members with draft letter templates and details of how to obtain their MP's details.

As soon as you have a bite from an MP it's vital to follow this up with a meeting with them to discuss PR and producing an EDM (Early Day Motion). Given the nature of the cause it is more likely that an MP on the right of the house will engage. Once this is achieved the press will be very interested and so will people on your database as well as members of Property118.

Somebody will also need to contact/meet all centres of influence in the PRS, e.g. landlord associations, forum owners such as myself, specialist media etc.

The aim of the PR should be to raise money PR and marketing expenses. I think it is highly unlikely that an online petition of this nature will achieve 100,000 signatures.

It is unusual for an EDM to raise a debate in The House of Commons but the mere prospect of doing so is often enough to spark mainstream media interest to carry the campaign. However, given the timing of the 2015 Enforcement Review, with the correct level of campaigning it may be possible to sneak questions from MP's into parliamentary debates in respect of that review.

If the likes of Shelter oppose the campaign that could be a good thing as it may very well pull their media machine (which is very powerful) into the debate and associated PR.

Worst case scenario is that a LOT more people will become aware of the role of HCEO's.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:40 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

First draft EDM .........

Efficient Evictions Campaign

This House supports and recognises the efforts of the Efficient Evictions Campaign to compel Courts to allow freedom of choice for private landlords to appoint High Court Enforcement Officers as an alternative to over-stretched County Court Bailiffs for the purpose of enforcing evictions.

Steve Gracey

13:55 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Anyone know why councils don't seem to acknowledge that speedy no notice High Court evictions are a possibility when they advice tenants to sit tight and play the system for a few months until the Bailiffs arrive?

I'm sure we've all seen Cant pay - we'll take it away on channel 5. How do councils still get away with giving out such crap advice?

How can we make judges accept that the s21 notice, the court case etc are all adequate warnings for the tenant to heed about their impending homelessness?

David Asker

14:09 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

I'm afraid the Councils, CAB and other advice forums always side with the tenant/debtor giving them advice on how to play the system which ends up costing the landlord/creditor in one way or another.

It's been like that for years and not much changes.

Steve Gracey

14:49 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

David, I completely agree with you about councils lefty leanings but how do they get away with giving out the wrong advice? They just seem to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that you guys don't exist. It's interesting to me because your raison d'etre is to enable us to screw up the advice that the councils are giving out. Do you know if any councils actually advise tenants of the possibility of speedier HCEO evictions? My councils website insists that tenants are legally entitled to get 28 days notice from the Bailiffs and that this is the only way they can ever be put out.

David Asker

15:01 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Personally, I do not know of any Council's advising of the use of an HCEO. Like many, they appear not to understand the process unfortunately. It is the same of counter staff in the Court Service. Some retraining would not go amiss.

It must be remembered though that any transfer is subject to it being granted by a Judge. Almost all applications for this at the original application for a possession order are granted, applications after the event can be problematic.

Like I have said above, it would be far better if landlords (including councils themselves) could have a choice of enforcement provider (rather than it being a monopoly for the CCB) without costly and timely applications under S42.

Until this is changed (and now is the time to make your voices heard) landlords will be beholden to either waiting many weeks/months for possession of their property or having the possible expense of further applications etc.

Another point to consider is that opening up this market will create further competition between HCEOs possibly driving the price down further (albeit we are at the lower end of what they charge anyway).

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

16:18 PM, 17th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "17/10/2014 - 15:01":

Hi David

I have slightly amended my previous post - see >>> http://www.property118.com/speedy-evictions-whys-wherefores/69309/comment-page-2/#comment-46963

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