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Permission to issue a warrant for possession is no longer required in rent arrears cases

27 September 2018

The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2018 (SI 2018/975) come into force from 1 October 2018 so that a writ or warrant for possession may be issued without the court’s permission where there has been non-compliance with an order suspending possession on payment of money.

As we reported here and here back in 2016 the Court of Appeal found, in the case of Cardiff City Council v Lee ((2016) EWCA Civ 1034) that all landlords issuing a warrant for possession following breach of a suspended order for possession required the permission of the Court before the warrant could be issued.

For a short period of time landlords were required to make a formal application for permission. The Court service subsequently updated the Request for Warrant of Possession (N325) and Request for Re-issue of Warrant (N445) forms requiring landlords to certify breach of the suspended order and since then these forms accompanied by a rent statement have been put before District Judges for permission to issue and/or re-issue the warrant for possession.

On 1 October 2018, the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) will be amended (again) and in particular part 83(2)(e) of the CPR will be amended to add the words ‘(other than where non-compliance with the terms of suspension of enforcement of the judgment or order is the failure to pay money)’.

Part 83(2) will therefore say, from 1 October 2018, that a warrant must not be issued without the permission of the court where…(e) under the judgment or order, any person is entitled to a remedy subject to the fulfilment of any condition, and it is alleged that the condition has been fulfilled (other than where non-compliance with the terms of suspension of enforcement of the judgment or order is the failure to pay money).

The effect of this amendment is that landlords will no longer require the permission of the Court to issue or re-issue a warrant for possession for breach of a suspended order for possession made on the basis of rent arrears and suspended on terms that the tenant pays the rent and an amount towards the arrears.

It should be noted that permission will still be required where the possession order is suspended on other terms, such as to grant access or not to cause a nuisance or to comply with the tenancy agreement.

We will wait to see whether this amendment will speed up the eviction process. Certainly it will remove the need for a District Judge to grant permission, but in our experience the delay, sometimes up to 10 weeks or more, is with the Bailiff teams who are clearly very stretched. An option, although not always straight forward, is to apply to transfer the proceedings to the High Court for enforcement purposes.

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