The best way to execute a possession order is by asking the county court to issue a warrant of possession and the landlord in Westminster has to request for transfer of the possession order to the High Court for enforcement, by the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
These HCEOs are also known as Sheriffs, certificated bailiffs or enforcement agents in Westminster.
The High Court can impose a possession order in Westminster, Balham, or Barnes if:
The possession hearing was in the High Court in Greater London which is rare because if a landlord in Westminster applies in the high court for a possession warrant, it will be moved to the county court unless there are exceptional circumstances such as complex factual conflicts or important legal issues.
The landlord in Westminster specifically applies to the county court to get the process transferred into the High Court.
It is at the county court's discretion whether to require enforcement in Westminster, Balham, or Barnes to be referred to the High Court.
The landlord in Westminster can request the possession order to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement during the county court possession proceedings.
After a possession order has been served, the Westminster property owner have to make an application to the county court asking for the order to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement.
The landlord can't make the application if there are outstanding issues such as if the tenant in Westminster has appealed against the order.
If there are rent arrears and the arrears are in excess of £ 600 together with any court costs, the landlord may also apply for a writ of control to recover the money owed in Westminster, Balham, or Barnes.
The warrant of control allows the owner to sell or seize the debtor's or the tenant's belongings in Westminster and this is commonly referred to as fi fa or Fieri facias writ.
If the debt is processed by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA), then it will not be permitted to get transferred to the High Court as CCA agreements that are regulated can only be enforced in the Greater London county court.
The reasons why a landlord in Westminster may request that the order be transferred for enforcement to the High Court include:
The enforcement in Westminster is normally faster via the HCEOs compared to county court bailiffs
Loss of rental income triggered by enforcement delay of the bailiffs of the county court in Greater London
It prevents further anti-social behaviour or destruction of property in Westminster
HCEO has the right to enforce the possession order as well as seizing the goods in Westminster if there is any pending rent
An interest rate of 8% will be accrued for judgement debt arrears from the start of the order transfer.
The tenant can oppose an application to transfer enforcement in Westminster to the High Court because the costs of using a HCEO are greater than the Greater London county court bailiffs and the speed of eviction is fast in this case.
Some reasons the tenant may give include:
The Westminster property owner has not provided proof that there will be some delays when county court bailiffs are used
The costs involved are not proportionate
He/she needs the excess time to find somewhere else to stay in Barnes, Balham, or Westminster before being evicted
The court in Westminster can also consider the tenants' opposition on the grounds of having vulnerable children and not owing significant rent arrears.
It is a must for the landlord to get permission from the high court if he/she wants to transfer the application granted by the County court in Greater London, apart from when:
Similarly, you can continue with a breach of possession order without having to worry about the writ of possession and this also applies to the suspended possession order in Westminster.
If the landlord in Barnes, Westminster, or Balham is in a possession to apply for the go ahead to enforce an order of possession in the High Court, he must ensure that all the people in actual possession of the property in question are notified.
If each tenant in Westminster isn't given the notice, the High Court shouldn't grant permission.
In Greater London, it is not required to give the notice in a specific form.
The notice must include the fact of case; this is the vital part of the notice.
If there is just one tenant in the Westminster property, who is already aware of the case being transferred, then a simple reminder by the landlord of the guidelines from the court order and a demand that the property is to be given up is more than enough.
The writ of possession may be annulled even after it has been enforced in Westminster, in cases where the landlord fails to provide enough notice, or when information about appeals against the possession hearings or pending application is withheld from the court.
The several incidents of HCEOs in Greater London trying to divert from the specified process by giving a direct application and taking charge of matter with the wrong usage of section 41 or N293A which is in opposition to tenants rather than trespassers.
On 21 March 2016, a practice note was issued by the Senior Master of the High Court in order to ensure that these malpractices stop.
Frequently, HCEO's enforcement of order of possession in Westminster is frequently faster than the county court agents.
The execution of a letter of possession by a HCEO may take place only a few days after the expiry of the notice of the landlord's request for permission to the High Court, if necessary, or the issue of the letter of possession in Westminster, Balham, or Barnes.
A HCEO does not have to give tenants any notice in advance before their visit in Westminster to execute the writ of possession because there is no requirement for that, however, some HCEOs usually send the writ one or two days before visiting the premises.
If the HCEO intends seizing the tenants' goods and recover the landlord's property in Westminster, it is imperative that a 7-day notice is given to the tenants in question.
Only the High Court in Greater London has the power to stay or set aside a writ of possession, or writ of control.
Applications should be submitted on Form N244 to the High Court.
In case the stay or set aside is granted, then it is important that, if possible, the tenant in Westminster will inform the HCEO of this fact as the High Court may not have informed the HCEO.
The Greater London county court is to set aside the original order of possession to apply for any other application.
HCEOs in Westminster are not employed by the courts they are licensed commercial agencies.
You can look at the Directory of High Court Enforcement Officers to see who is authorised to proceed with High Court writs in England and Wales.
HCEOs must conduct themselves to a code of practice.
Except stated otherwise by the court, a writ of possession cannot be enforced on Christmas Day, Good Friday, or on a Sunday in Westminster.
As from 6th April 2014, there are regulations that govern the actions bailiffs and HCEOs in Westminster when seizing tenant goods.
The regulations have requirements that a HCEO must not:
Without the court orders, entering a residential property in Greater London later than 9pm or prior to 6am
Enter a Westminster residential property if the only person present at the time is below the age of 16
Take essential household goods like washing machine, fridge or cooker
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