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Possession Proceedings Demystified: The Ultimate Guide

Last updated:

November 06, 2022

Verified by Lawhive solicitors


Possession proceedings arise when there is a dispute over possession of a property.

What are Possession Proceedings?

Possession proceedings arise when there is a dispute over possession of a property. They are usually started by a landlord who wants to take back their property from a tenant.

Landlords begin possession proceedings for a number of reasons, like:

  • If the tenant has overdue rent to pay (also known as being in arrears of rent)
  • If the tenant has breached terms of the tenancy agreement
  • If the landlord wants to sell their property

Possible outcomes of a possession proceeding:

  • The landlord’s claim can be ruled out as invalid. This will allow the tenant (or tenants) to stay in the property.

  • A suspended possession order can be granted by the court. This will allow the tenant to remain in the property so long as they pay the rent on time and follow any conditions / rules set out by the court.

  • An outright possession order can be granted by the court. This will force the tenant to leave the landlord’s property by a specific date set by the court.

  • A money order can be granted by the court. This will force the tenant to pay a sum of money to the landlord within a certain period.

  • A possession order with money judgement can be granted by the court. This will force the tenant to leave the property as well as owe a sum of money to the landlord, which will usually include unpaid rent money and the landlord’s legal costs / court fees.

Possession proceedings involve collecting evidence, filing various forms, applying for court hearings, attending court and even applying for permission to carry out an eviction. This can be a long and costly process. It is recommended that you seek advice from a solicitor to help you through possession proceedings.

Do I need a solicitor?

Possession proceedings often involve going to court which can be a complicated and lengthy process. It is recommended that you seek a solicitor's advice. See below for details.

DIY Score:


/ 5

You'll likely need a solicitor for a possession proceeding



Talk to the other person


You may be able to resolve the situation by simply talking with the other person (or people) involved. It is possible to negotiate a solution to the problem between yourselves. This is the cheapest option and will not require a solicitor's advice.


Mediation is a formal meeting where you and the other person discuss the issues involved. A mediator (an independent third party) will try to help you agree and come to a solution. You can hire a solicitor to help you better understand the process or represent you in mediation. This option is cheaper and faster than going to court.

Go to Court

6 months

If you cannot resolve the dispute informally or through mediation, you should seek advice from a solicitor. If you are a landlord they will help you make a possession claim. This will require going to court. Your solicitor will guide you through the court process. If your claim is successful, the court will make a possession order which forces the tenant to leave the property and / or pay their outstanding debt. This is the most expensive option but ensures that your wishes are legally protected.

What steps are involved?

Step 1

Try talking to the other person first

You should first attempt to resolve your dispute by discussing the problems directly with your tenant/landlord. You can do this either directly or formally through mediation. If you reach an agreement this way, you will avoid the time and costs of going to court.

Step 2

Tenant sent notice of seeking possession

Next a landlord will need to make a possession claim. To make a valid claim, the landlord must let the tenant (or tenants) know by what date they want them to leave the property. This is known as giving a valid notice. The tenant can choose to follow the instructions in the notice. If they choose to do so no further action will be required.

Step 3

Make a possession claim

If the tenant does not leave by the date specified in the notice, a landlord can issue a court claim for a possession order. Your solicitor will help you send in the relevant forms either online or directly to your County Court. You should show all relevant evidence and documentation to your solicitor at this point so they can start building your case.

Step 4

Before the court hearing

A court date will be set that the landlord should prepare for. The tenant will be notified, they will likely take their own independent legal advice and build a defence or even make a counterclaim. The landlord’s solicitor will receive a copy of their defence.

Step 5

Possession Proceedings

There will be a court hearing where a judge will look at the evidence and arguments from both sides to come to a decision about the possession order. The landlord will either be given a possession order or the claim will be ruled out as invalid.

Step 6

Warrant of Possession

If the court has given the landlord a possession order but the tenant still has not left by the date specified in the order, they can apply to the court for a warrant of possession. The landlord’s solicitor will guide them through this process. The tenant can apply to suspend the warrant of possession. If the court grants a warrant of possession, a County Court bailiff will enforce the order and evict the tenant.

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Evidence and documentation


  • Tenancy Agreement
  • Bank Statements (or other proof of payment)


  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address (electricity or water bills)
  • Deed to the Land


  • Court fees are £325 for claims made online. Court fees are £355 for claims made through the County Court.
  • Solicitors' fees may vary.

Factors that effect cost

  • Type of possession order
  • Whether dispute is resolved informally, through mediation or in court


  • Possession disputes that go to court can last around 6 months on average.

Factors that effect time

  • Type of possession order
  • Whether dispute is resolved informally, through mediation or in court
  • Availability of evidence
  • Number of people involved
  • Level of Cooperation from the people involved


Jump to:

Information about possession proceedings

Things you'll need to start your case

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