The Complete Guide to Enforcing a Possession Order

For landlords and landowners across the UK, regaining control of your property from squatters or errant tenants can be a daunting task. 

Understanding the legal process for enforcing a possession order is crucial to navigating this challenge effectively. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the steps involved in the enforcement of a possession order, ensuring you can reclaim your property legally and efficiently.

Obtaining a Writ of Possession from the County Court

This legal process begins with the landlord filing a possession claim, typically online, where they must detail the grounds on which the eviction is based, such as rent arrears or violation of tenancy terms.

It is imperative that landlords provide all necessary documentation and evidence supporting their claim to ensure a strong case. The court then schedules a possession hearing, where both parties can present their arguments. 

a county court case

If the judge rules in favour of the landlord, an order for possession is issued, stipulating the terms and the timeline by which the tenants must vacate the property. 

If the tenant chooses not to vacate on the agreed date, the next step is to apply for a warrant of possession.

This is done by completing form N244 and paying the required court fees. The application should be made to the county court where the possession hearing took place. Once granted, the writ authorises county court bailiffs to remove persons from the property.

Dealing with Breathing Space Moratoriums

An additional hurdle for landlords can be the breathing space moratorium, which provides tenants facing debt difficulties with legal protections from creditor actions for a certain period. 

Here are two types of breathing space moratoriums:

  1. Standard Breathing Space: Can last up to 60 days, providing the tenant protection from eviction and other creditor actions during this period.
  2. Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space: Provides stronger protections and can last as long as the individual’s mental health crisis treatment, plus an additional 30 days after treatment ends, regardless of the duration of the treatment.
breathing space tenant

During the declared time, you cannot serve a notice of eviction or start possession proceedings. For landlords, planning around these moratoriums involves:

  • Monitoring the start and end dates of the moratorium very closely.
  • Using the time to prepare for possible legal actions post-moratorium.
  • Considering alternative dispute resolutions or rent adjustments if possible and appropriate.
  • Staying informed about any changes to legislation or guidelines related to the Debt Respite Scheme.

Delivering a Notice of Eviction

Before any physical action is taken to enforce a possession order, landlords must serve a notice to the occupants. 

This notice must provide at least 14 days’ notice of the intended eviction date, clearly outlining the terms of the possession order and the final date by which the occupants need to vacate the property. 

Hiring Enforcement Services or Bailiffs

If occupants do not comply with the possession order by the specified date, it is advisable for landlords to hire enforcement services. 

You can choose between county court bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs). While county court bailiffs are often sufficient, HCEOs may be preferred due to their typically quicker response times and greater powers of enforcement under breaches the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) regulations.

You can read more about the reliable HCEO service supplied by Able Investigations to clients throughout the UK here.

enforcement officer

What do Enforcement Officers do to Enforce Possession Orders?

Enforcement agents, including HCEOs and county court bailiffs, play a pivotal role in the physical process of reclaiming property.

They are responsible for ensuring the property is vacated, using reasonable force if necessary, and securing the property post-eviction. 

Enforcement agents also ensure that the process respects the legal rights of all parties and is conducted in a humane and professional manner. For this reason, it’s important to hire trained agents who have a full understanding of the law.

Warrants of Restitution

In cases where tenants may have returned to the property after an eviction, landlords can apply for a warrant of restitution. 

This is a subsequent order that enables the enforcement agent to remove occupants who have unlawfully re-entered the property after an eviction has been carried out.

This ensures that landlords can maintain possession of their property after the initial enforcement action has been completed.

enjoying an empty property


Enforcing a possession order in the UK requires a thorough understanding of legal procedures and compliance with various regulations to ensure that the rights of all parties are respected. 

From obtaining the initial possession order to dealing with post-eviction challenges, the process can be complex, but with careful planning and the right support, landlords can effectively regain control of their properties. 

Landlords should always stay informed about the latest legal developments and consider professional advice to navigate the intricacies of possession proceedings and enforcement effectively.

If you’re looking for highly trained and accredited agents to deal with your possession matter in the UK, why not contact Able Investigations? With over 20 years of experience in enforcing High Court writs and orders, we have developed a reputation for handling matters professionally, efficiently

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