Accelerated Possession Orders: A Guide For Landlords In England

mariam-abu-hussein
Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 12th February 2024

Accelerated possession orders are legal orders issued by a court in England and Wales that allow landlords to evict tenants without a court hearing in certain circumstances. This is different from a standard possession order, which involves a court review. 

These orders are typically used when a tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. 

Landlords can apply for an accelerated possession order if their tenants have not left by the date specified in a properly served Section 21 notice and they’re not claiming rent arrears. 

This route can be quicker than applying for a standard possession order, as there is usually no court hearing, making them a popular option for landlords looking to regain possession of their property quickly and efficiently. However, they can only be used in cases where there is no dispute over the tenant’s right to possession. 

At Lawhive, we recognise the urgency and significance for landlords looking to reclaim possession of their property in a timely and lawful way. In this article, we’ll equip you with valuable insights into the accelerated possession procedure including

When can landlords evict tenants using accelerated possession? 

A landlord can only apply for an accelerated possession order if: 

  • They have a clear reason to evict the tenants;

  • Tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) or a statutory periodic tenancy; 

  • There is a written tenancy agreement

  • They have given tenants the required written notice in the right way; 

  • Tenants are not being asked to leave before the end of a fixed-term tenancy.

When can’t landlords evict tenants using accelerated possession? 

Landlords cannot serve a section 21 notice if the tenancy is any other than an AST or statutory periodic tenancy or if there is no written tenancy agreement. Furthermore, landlords must have fulfilled their obligations regarding, deposits, fees, and required documents.

Landlords cannot apply for an accelerated possession order if they are using eviction as a tool for revenge, for example, if the tenant has complained about housing disrepair. 

Furthermore, if a property is classified as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or is located in an area where licensing is required by the local authority, then landlords must have the necessary license or have applied for it before being able to evict a qualifying tenant with an accelerated possession order. 

How can landlords get an accelerated possession order? 

To get an accelerated possession order, landlords must serve tenants with a valid Section 21 notice at least 6 months after the start of their tenancy, giving them two months to vacate the property. 

If the tenant doesn’t leave by the specified date, the landlord can apply to the court for an accelerated possession order.

How to apply for an accelerated possession order?

In England, landlords can apply for an accelerated possession order using Form N5B England: Claim possession of a property located wholly in England (accelerated procedure)

This form should be completed and sent to the nearest court that deals with housing possession along with the tenancy agreement, Section 21 notice, energy performance and gas certificates (EPC), a deposition protection certificate, and a copy of the How to Rent guide that was given to tenants at the start of their tenancy. 

Court review and issuance of possession order

The application will be considered by a judge who will either: 

  1. Issue a possession order telling the tenants they must leave the property by a certain date or;

  2. Arrange a court hearing. 

Typically, a court hearing is only necessary if there is a problem with the form (e.g. it is ambiguous or key information is missing) or if tenants raise an important issue. Even if the judge does set a court hearing nothing is set in stone in terms of the outcome either way, instead they will use the hearing to decide whether to grant the possession order or dismiss the case. 

If the application is approved by the court, tenants will receive a copy of the application and a defence form. Tenants then have 14 days to challenge the application from the date they receive it or write a statement outlining their circumstances.

Tenants usually have 14 or 28 days to vacate the property related to the possession order. However, in exceptional circumstances, a judge may give tenants up to 42 days to leave if they are facing hardship. 

Can tenants stop accelerated possession proceedings? 

Tenants can usually only put the brakes on accelerated possession proceedings if they can prove their landlord hasn’t followed the necessary rules to evict them legally, for example, if: 

  • The landlord did not provide proper notice; 

  • The landlord attempts to use the process without legal justification. 

What happens if tenants do not leave following an accelerated possession order? 

If tenants do not leave a property related to a possession order by the stated dates, landlords can enforce the order with the help of bailiffs who will evict the tenants. 

How much does an accelerated possession order cost? 

An accelerated possession order costs landlords £355, which they must pay when applying to the relevant court that deals with housing possession. 

This, however, does not include solicitors' fees should you decide to utilise the expertise of a landlord and tenant solicitor

How long does it take to get an accelerated possession order? 

The accelerated possession procedure is designed to be quicker because tenants have limited grounds to defend a section 21 notice, also known as a no-fault eviction

Therefore, it can take anywhere between two and six months to regain possession of a property through an accelerated possession order, whereas standard possession procedures can take around six to twelve months.

Can a landlord reclaim rent arrears with an accelerated possession order?

Landlords can’t reclaim rent arrears through an accelerated possession order. Landlords who wish to do this should serve a Section 8 notice.

Alternatively, they can use the accelerated procedure to reclaim the property, and then make a separate court claim for rent arrears. 

Can a landlord get an accelerated possession order without serving a section 21 notice? 

No, a landlord can’t apply for an accelerated possession order if they have not yet served their tenants a valid Section 21 notice. 

What are the benefits of accelerated possession orders?

For eligible cases, the accelerated possession procedure is a preferred choice for landlords reclaiming their property because: 

  1. It speeds up the process, resulting in a faster resolution compared to other possession routes; 

  2. It eliminates the need for a court hearing, simplifying the process.

Do landlords need to use a solicitor to get an accelerated possession order? 

No, landlords do not need a solicitor to apply for an accelerated possession order, however, it is a good idea to seek legal advice before doing so, particularly if a landlord is unfamiliar with how to evict a tenant legally, or if the situation is particularly complex.

Doing so will help tenants understand all of their options when it comes to reclaiming possession of their property in line with the current law. 

What are the alternatives to an accelerated possession order? 

As noted, an accelerated possession order isn’t always appropriate or possible. However,there are alternatives such as:

  • Applying for a standard possession order instead; 

  • Using the government’s online service to make an application to evict a tenant for rent arrears; 

  • Fill in the relevant forms and send them to the court if the landlord is evicting them because of a breach of the tenancy agreement

Are accelerated possession orders going away soon? 

The Renters (Reform) Bill is set to abolish no-fault evictions, which means that landlords will only be able to start eviction proceedings using section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. 

Progress has so far been slow on when this will come into force, with concerns that the courts may not be able to cope given their current backlogs.

However, UK housing minister, Michael Gove, has recently gone on the record to say that no-fault evictions will be abolished in 2024, taking accelerated possession orders with it. Having said that, no fixed date has yet been set for which this will come into force. 

How can Lawhive help? 

Evicting a tenant legally can be a challenge, particularly when faced with uncooperative behavior. 

Here at Lawhive, our network of landlord and tenant solicitors understands the difficulties you may face and is ready to offer tailored legal advice and support to alleviate your concerns. Plus, with our fixed fees, you can have peace of mind knowing the costs upfront.

For further information, book your free case assessment and receive a no-obligation quote from our dedicated legal assessment team today.

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