All you need to know about possession hearings
Most landlords have to get a possession order from the court before a tenant can be evicted. There is often a court hearing to help the judge decide whether or not the tenant should be evicted. This section explains what happens at the hearing.
If you need help, contact a local advice centre. The sooner you get advice the more likely it is that you will be able to stop the eviction.
Does my landlord have to get a court order to evict me?
In most cases, yes, but some people can be evicted without going to court. This will be the case if you are an ‘excluded occupier’. You’ll need to check what type of tenancy you have.
Where is the hearing?
There is a usually a county court in each town. Your landlord has to apply to the county court that covers the area where your home is. The papers you get from the court should tell you the address of the court.
There may be more than one county court in cities. In rural areas the county court may be many miles from where you live. If you think you will have difficulty getting there you may be able to get the hearing moved to a more convenient court. Talk to an adviser as soon as you can if you are in this situation.
Hearings take place privately before a judge. It will be a civil matter. Being taken to the county court is not the same as going to a criminal court. There is no risk that you will be sent to prison if you don’t move out of your home before your landlord goes to court.
What should I do when I arrive?
When you arrive at the court:
- find out exactly where the hearing will be held
- let the usher know you will be attending the hearing.
The usher is a court officer who deals with the administration of court hearings. The usher will have a list of the cases to be heard by the judges that day and will tick you off when you arrive. If you can’t find the usher the court office can tell you where you should wait and where the hearing will take place
The papers you have received from the court should tell you what time your case will be heard. There are often a lot of similar cases set to be heard at the same time and the usher may decide what order the cases are heard in depending on who turns up at the court. You should arrive before the time given in the court papers but you might have to wait a long time for your case to be called.
Who will be at the hearing?
The judge will ask the parties to identify themselves and explain how the hearing will be conducted. Your landlord (or your landlord’s representative) will then speak first. This is because they have started the claim. You will be given the opportunity to ask your landlord questions afterwards.
You (or your representative) will then have the opportunity to speak. You can tell the court why you think you should not be evicted (for example because you have paid off your rent arrears) or why your eviction should be delayed (for example because you are having problems finding somewhere else to live). It is important to be clear about the reasons why you don’t think you should be evicted. It’s a good idea to prepare notes of the things you want to say at the hearing. Your landlord will be able to ask you questions afterwards. The judge will usually help you to understand the court procedure if necessary.
After you and your landlord have spoken the judge may ask either of you further questions before making a decision.
When will I know what the judge has decided?
The judge will make a decision based on the evidence you and your landlord supply and what the law says. There are different types of court order. The judge may:
- make a possession order
- make a postponed, or a suspended possession order with conditions or terms attached
- make a money judgment
- adjourn the case
- dismiss the case
- decide who pays the costs of bringing the case
If you do not understand the judge’s decision, ask him or her to explain what it means. A copy of any order that is made should be sent to you after the hearing.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.