Due to cuts in the Court Service, there are now significant delays when using a County Court Bailiff (CCB) to enforce an eviction notice. These often range from 6 to 16 weeks, with one Court quoting close to 6 months. Most High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) are able to carry out an eviction within days. In cases when HCEOs are instructed, the possession order remains with the county court, it is only the enforcement aspect that is transferred to the High Court.
A CCB will always send notice of an impending eviction to the tenant, allowing them to prepare, make other housing arrangements and hopefully vacate the premises before the actual eviction date. It can be argued that this allows the tenant time to delay proceedings by making further Court applications for the sole purpose of buying themselves more time. HCEOs are not currently required to serve a notice prior to the eviction date, however the Sheriff’s Office will take instructions from the Landlord as to whether they are to do so.
The decision permitting the transfer of the matter to an HCEO is at the discretion of the Judge. The request must include a reason for the transfer. You may find it useful to request the transfer in your initial application for possession.
Using an HCEO can be more expensive then instructing a CCB, costing between £300 and £800 compared to £110 for a Bailiff. If you are also owed rent arrears on your property, you can add a claim to the possession order. Landlords should consider whether these excess fees. As of April 2014, the HCEO is now required to give 7 days’ notice of intention to enforce the debt aspect of the order. If you had not intended to notify the tenant of the eviction, this would alert them.
HCEOs tend to be more forceful and determined than CCBs where occupants are difficult, and tend to succeed with evictions more frequently in cases where tenants barricade themselves in or inflict assault on them.
If you have a tenant dispute you would like to discuss, or need advice on evicting an occupant, please contact a member of our litigation team:
Mark Hirst: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachael Frankland: email@example.com