The county court bailiff system has long been criticised by landlords who see the additional timeframe as a further delay in regaining possession, after the court has already decided they are entitled to it. For those who are looking for an eviction following a possession order in Central London County Court, the situation is about to get worse.
The court has caught up somewhat recently, following a backlog from the stay of all evictions during the worst of the covid pandemic. The timescales expected were still not ideal but were moving closer to the 3 month estimate from application to eviction that would have been expected pre-pandemic. Manageable. However, news has filtered through in recent weeks that there has been a steady reduction in the amount of bailiff appointments allocated. This has now been added to, with news that bailiff operations via the Central London County Court (the busiest court in the county for evictions), have been suspended due to health and safety concerns of bailiffs caused by a lack of provision of suitable equipment needed to carry out such evictions. Even those who have already been given a date, have had their appointment suspended with no new date allocated.
The effect of this decision will be huge for landlords. A tenant cannot be forced to leave a property unless it is by agreement or via a court order enforced with a bailiff. Equally, landlords cannot choose what court is allocated to deal with the claim as this is dependent on the location of the property in question. Many of the possession orders that cannot be enforced will be for tenants in significant rent arrears and so the additional delays will not just be an annoyance to landlords but in a lot of cases causing significant further financial prejudice.
Temporarily this may mean that the only route to regaining possession may to apply to have the matter transferred up to the high court for the purposes of enforcement and instruct high court bailiffs to carry out the eviction. This will still not be quick, as an application to transfer up can only be approved by the court and if this does not happen at a hearing as is often the case, it would need a separate application for permission to be filed incurring more court fees.
Hopefully this will just be a short-term delay, but it is certainly something to consider for landlords either just starting or part way through possession proceedings in Central London County Court.
If court proceedings are required and further assistance is needed with the process, please do let us know and we can help. I can be contacted at [email protected].
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