Accelerated Possession Orders

What is an Accelerated Possession Order

An accelerated possession order is sought by a landlord when he wants to take a property back into his possession, usually to avoid large losses as a result of a tenant who refuses to pay rent or is unable to continue doing so.

When can a landlord apply for an Accelerated Possession Order

Before a landlord can apply to the court to obtain a possession order they must firstly have served what is known as a section 21 notice on the tenant which lets them know that the landlord requires possession and gives the tenant 2 months notice to quit the property. The 2 month period has to expire before the landlord makes an application to the court. Further, there must also be a written tenancy agreement (this is a contract between the landlord and the tenant) in existence and it is therefore important to note here that a verbal agreement is not sufficient in order to make an application for an accelerated possession order.

If a landlord has made an application for this type of order it means that the tenant will have signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement meaning that the landlord will not have to show any of the grounds for possession that would have to be shown if the tenant had instead signed an assured tenancy. This thus means that, the latter agreement (assured tenancy agreement) provides the tenant more protection in the circumstances where a landlord wants to regain possession of the property in which the tenant lives in.

What will the court take into consideration

The court will not consider whether it is reasonable or fair to make the order and there will not usually be a court hearing for the granting of accelerated possession orders unless:

  • The court is not satisfied that all procedures have been complied with in the application process or;
  • The tenant makes a case for exceptional hardship

In the circumstances where a case for exceptional hardship has been made, possession may be delayed for a period of up to 6 weeks. If neither of the above grounds are made out by the tenant however, a possession order will usually take immediate effect as from the time that the court grants it.

What procedure will be followed for the application for these orders

To begin with, the landlord should make an application to the county court which is situated in the district within which the property is located. Form N5B is to be filled out and filed with the court and, a copy of the section 21 notice which was served on the tenant giving 2 months notice must be exhibited with the court papers. Once the tenant receives the court documents he must file a defence within 14 days. Failure to file the defence within that time period means that the landlord can then request that the accelerated possession order be made.

What do I do if an application for an Accelerated Possession Order has been made against me

In the event that an application for an accelerated possession order has been made against you, you must begin by reading the documents sent to you very carefully before sending back a response. If for any reason you do not understand the form or you need help completing it, you should consider getting advice from a Solicitor or any other relevant body, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, immediately. The court may, as mentioned above, take into consideration any circumstances that make up a case for exceptional hardship (s.89 Housing Act 1980). The following circumstances are examples of exceptional hardship: 

  • If there are any children involved and alternative accommodation cannot be accessed immediately or;
  • If you or any other member of the household is ill or pregnant or;
  • If you or any other member of the household has a disability. 
This list is not exhaustive but, the circumstances outlined are the most common grounds for constructing an exceptional hardship defence.