What happens in court?
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 a possession order should be made. This section explains what happens at the hearing.
You should always go to any court hearing and try to get advice before you go. If this is not possible some courts will have duty advisers who can help you.
Where is the hearing?
Possession hearings usually take place in your local county court. The papers you get from the court will tell you the address.
The hearing usually takes place in a room called chambers. This could be the judge’s private room or a courtroom.
Use the Gov.uk Court finder to find details of your local court.
What should I do when I arrive?
The papers you have received from the court should tell you what time your case will be heard. Arrive at the court before the time of your hearing. If you get there late, the court may already have made an order.
When you arrive:
- tell the court staff that you are there to attend the hearing
- ask to see the duty adviser if you don’t have an adviser or representative to speak on your behalf
- find out in which room your hearing is taking place.
Be prepared to wait. There are usually other cases being heard.
Court duty advisers
Many courts have a duty adviser or solicitor who may be able to give you last-minute advice. This service is called the court duty scheme.
Ask the court staff when you arrive if there is a court duty scheme. The scheme is free of charge (it is funded by the Legal Aid Agency) and the advisers might be from Shelter Cymru, but not always.
A duty adviser can:
- give you last-minute advice
- try to negotiate an agreement with your landlord or their representative
- speak for you in court.
Arrive at the court early if you want to speak to a duty adviser. Take any relevant documents and letters with you.
You can’t rely on getting help on the day of your hearing as there isn’t always an adviser on duty. It’s better if you can prepare for your court hearing.
Who will be at the hearing?
A district judge hears your case. Your landlord will be at the hearing together with their representative if they have one.
The judge checks that everyone in the room is there for the correct hearing. The general public are not allowed in.
If you have an adviser who is not a solicitor, they can speak on your behalf if they are part of the court’s duty scheme. If your adviser is not part of a duty scheme, they must ask the judge for permission to speak for you.
You can usually take a friend or family member with you into the courtroom to help you if you don’t have an adviser or solicitor. Ask the judge’s permission if you want your friend to speak on your behalf.
How will the court make a decision?
Your landlord or their representative will explain to the court what order they want the court to make.
You or your adviser 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. 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.
The judge will make a decision based on the evidence you and your landlord supply and what the law says. Click here to find out more about the different types of order the court might make.
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.