17 August, 2021
You've issued possession proceedings and have received a possession hearing date. Now what? What should you expect?
The possession hearing is listed for a short period of time, usually around 15 minutes if the tenant has not raised any defences. As the claimant, the landlord will be expected to attend along with their legal representative. Tenants should also attend and can obtain legal advice at Court.
The hearing will be before a District Judge or a Deputy District Judge. Prior to the hearing, the Claimant will need to prepare a witness statement detailing the key issues and addressing the reasons why possession is sought- this is usually on the basis of rent arrears. An updated rent account statement will also need to be provided to the Court in advance of the hearing.
At the hearing itself, the Judge will review the documents, starting with the notice to confirm that the correct form was used, the correct notice period was given, and to check that he/she is satisfied that the notice was correctly served upon the tenants.
The Judge will then turn to the witness statement and consider the reasons for possession. If this is on the basis of arrears, for example, the Judge will need to ensure that at the time the notice was issued, and as of the date of the hearing, the arrears had breached the relevant threshold. The Judge will usually ask the claimant if they have checked their accounts that day to confirm that no payments have been received.
If the tenants are present, they will have the opportunity to say their piece, and this may result in the hearing being adjourned if the Judge is satisfied that either the notices were not served correctly, the arrears are disputed, or there are other possible defences available.
However, if the Judge is satisfied that all is in order, he or she will make the possession order, and usually give the tenants 2 weeks to vacate before the landlord can instruct bailiffs.
Fail to prepare or prepare to fail. Having all of the documents prepared, organised and with the Court in good time before the hearing is crucial, and the key to a smooth possession hearing.
For more information contact Samantha Abdoollah in our Dispute Resolution department via email or phone on 01254222456. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.