This is a question to the blog clinic from Joanne who is a landlord.
We moved abroad for 6 months and let our house out using a letting agent.
When we returned to UK the tenants refused to leave. We are currently forced to live in our caravan with our children, dogs and cats. We’ve been living in it for 8 weeks now. The tenant has also not paid rent since her tenancy expired 8 weeks ago.
We are waiting for a possession order and then hope to transfer the case to high court. We have the most incompetent solicitor, he has kept making mistakes. How long does it usually take for the county court to transfer a case to high court please.
Thanks very much for any advise given
Presumably, the case is to be transferred to the High Court because you want to have the possession order enforced by the HIgh Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) rather than the County Court Bailiffs.
People sometimes do this if they are worried that the County Court Bailiffs will take a longer time to make an appointment and think that the HCEOs will do a better job.
HECOs are also used sometimes where landlords are worried that the tenants will cause problems during the eviction – for example, offer violence or be obstructive. They are often used for example during difficult squatter cases where squatters are politically motivated.
However my experience when I did possession proceedings was that tenants almost always take steps to have left the property before the bailiffs arrive. It is very rare for them to still be there. So the important thing is just to get the appointment. Why are your tenants refusing to move out – do you know?
Many tenants fail to move out because they want to be re-housed by the Council, and the Council have refused to do this until a possession order has been made. However, the Council will always ensure that the tenants are re-housed before the bailiffs are due to come round to evict them. So the main thing is to ensure that no time is lost in making the application as soon as you are able.
It used to be that the HCEOs (also known as the Sheriffs) would offer a quicker service but this was mainly because they were using an illegal procedure (see here).
The HECO route is not particularly quicker now due to the time it can take to transfer the case to the High Court and the various applications and permissions you will need.
Also, a request to transfer up will generally be refused if the Judge cannot see any particular reason for using the Sheriffs rather than the County Court Bailiffs – in which case you will end up using the bailiffs anyway having wasted time in making the application.
The only time I tried to do it (where someone needed vacant possession urgently to sell the property to finance a major operation), I think it took about four to six weeks. It did end up being quicker than using the bailiffs in the end – but only just. And it was significantly more expensive.
I agree that your case is urgent, but a Judge may not see this as a reason to use the HCEOs. Unless maybe you are able to show that the waiting time for a bailiffs appointment in your court is unusually long and that the HCEO route will be significantly quicker. Do your solicitors have evidence of this?
I would suggest you get in touch with your solicitors and ask them what stage in the proceedings they have reached (i.e. have they got the possession order yet) and why in particular they are looking to transfer this case to the High Court.