ARLA pushes for High Court enforcement

Thursday 21 January 2016

David Cox, Managing Director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), has written to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Justice, urging him to consider allowing High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce County Court Possession Orders without the need for landlords to make further applications to the Court.

Under existing rules Possession Orders issued by the County Court are enforced by County Court Bailiffs (CCBs) and can only be enforced by HCEOs if leave is granted by the Court. As a result an increasing number of landlords are choosing to escalate possession proceedings to the High Court in order to request the use of HCEOs, but the decision to permit the transfer of enforcement is at the discretion of County Court Judges.

Permission is not always granted and there are significant inconsistencies across the country on how judges deal with such an application. This causes landlords and letting agents significant hardship, such as through the loss of rental income whilst the eviction proceedings are underway.

In many cases, CCBs are also unable to execute Warrants for Possession in a timely manner because they are severely overworked. This means that landlords can wait up to several months after securing a Warrant for Possession from the County Court before the eviction takes place.

The advantage of enforcement via the High Court is that from the date the landlord has obtained a Writ of Possession, HCEOs can exercise the Writ and evict the tenant in a matter of days. In addition to this, at the same as obtaining vacant possession of a property, HCEOs can also enforce an order for payment and seize goods to try and fulfil any money Judgment obtained against the tenant; such as for rent arears or damage.        

Ultimately when landlords apply to the Court to regain lawful possession of their property, the process is expensive and extremely slow. To bring about a more efficient and cost effective justice system for the lettings industry, ARLA believes that the Jurisdiction Order should be amended to allow landlords to choose how to deal with problems and the method of enforcement that best suits them.