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A County Court Bailiff Warrant of Possession is a legal document that grants permission for the landlord to regain their property from a tenant. But first, the landlord must apply for a Possession order from the County Court in order to evict a tenant from their property.

Keep reading, and we’ll unravel how to do the process…

Warren Marshall
Last updated on 9 October 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. What is a possession order?
2. Can Bailiffs Evict Tenants?
3. How to Apply for Bailiffs to Evict Tenants
4. Warrant and possession order costs
5. How long does it take to get a county court bailiff warrant for possession?
6. How long does an accelerated possession order take?
7. How long does a possession order last?
8. How do bailiffs evict tenants?
9. What happens when the county court eviction bailiffs arrive?
10. How long does a county court bailiff eviction take?
11. What happens when bailiffs evict a tenant?
12. When will your landlord doesn’t need a possession warrant?
13. Can I Avoid Eviction?
14. I’m going to be homeless – help!
15. Where can I get professional debt advice?
16. Key Points:
17. FAQs


With this article, you will get the chance to explore the county court bailiff process in cases of Possession Orders or Warrants for Possession. This guide is designed for landlords facing tenant arrears and tenants experiencing financial difficulties in England and Wales.

Learn about county court bailiffs, their procedures, and the eviction process in this resource.

What is a possession order?

In the UK, A Possession Order is a legal order issued by a county court to grant a landlord the legal right to repossess their property from a tenant. They are typically granted in cases where tenants have breached their rental agreements.

It often happens due to having unpaid rent or other significant violations of the tenancy agreement. Taking a Possession Order is an essential step that needs to be taken in order to continue the eviction process. Plus, it provides landlords with the legal authority to regain possession of their property.

A landlord cannot forcibly remove a tenant from their property. They need to obtain a possession order issued by the court in order to conduct eviction. This order specifies a specific date by which the tenants must vacate the premises.

Generally, the eviction notice is provided within a range of 14 to 28 days after a court hearing or decision has taken place.

Under certain circumstances, the judge can reject the landlord’s claim if the judge deems that the landlord has acted improperly. During a hearing, the tenant has the opportunity to raise any issues of misconduct by the landlord.

In some cases, the judge may opt for a suspended order. It allows the tenants to remain in the property but requires them to continue paying rent as ordered by the court.

Can Bailiffs Evict Tenants?

Your landlord will go to court to get permission to use bailiffs to evict you (as a tenant) if you have ignored a possession order. The court will surely grant permission to use bailiffs to evict you if the accusations made by the landlord against you are true. Here, the bailiffs’ will act on behalf of the court to conduct the legal enforcement procedure.

The landlord must request a warrant of possession to implement a possession order in this manner. Then, the court will subsequently establish a new eviction date. This date will be enforced either by County Court Bailiffs or High Court Enforcement Officers.

Distinctions exist between High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) and County Court Bailiffs.

There are two civil courts in England and Wales. Namely, they are such as:

1. County Court – The County Court handles most of the general civil cases such as,

1. Debt Recovery
2. Small Claims
3. Contract Disputes
4. Property Disputes
5. Family Matters
6. Personal Injury Claims
7. Employment Disputes
8. Housing Disputes
9. Probate and Inheritance Claims
10. Consumer Claims

2. High Court – The High Court primarily handles more substantial debt cases or debts not governed by the Consumer Credit Agreement.

Generally, the County Court Bailiffs take about 3 to 4 weeks time to enforce an eviction from a property on an individual. Additionally, the time taken to enforce an eviction in busier jurisdictions like in London can extend up to 6 weeks or even longer.

On the other hand, the High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) can execute an eviction within 7 days. Even in severe circumstances, the eviction can occur within 24 hours. Usually, these fast-track enforcement procedures come into action due to the HCEO personally acquiring a Writ of Possession from the High Court.

It is worth noting that a landlord can only engage an HCEO to enforce a possession order if the County Court grants the permission to do so. However, there is an automatic presumption that an HCEO may be utilised in cases where the Possession Order pertains to trespassers.

Beyond the timeframes, the primary distinction between a County Court Bailiff and an HCEO lies in their legal authority powers.

Keep in mind that HCEO does not required by law to seek permission to enter your property for eviction or the removal of possessions. But on the other hand, the bailiff must obtain separate permission to enter your property.

How to Apply for Bailiffs to Evict Tenants

Applying for bailiffs to evict tenants in the UK involves a legal process and specific steps that must be followed.

Below is a general outline of how to apply for bailiffs to carry out an eviction:

1. Serve Proper Notice:

Before considering eviction, you typically need to serve notice to the tenant. The notice may be a Section 21 Notice (no-fault eviction) or a Section 8 Notice (for cause, such as rent arrears). The notice period must have expired before you can proceed.

2. Apply to the Court:

You need to apply to the county court for a possession order if the tenant does not leave the property even after the notice period has expired. For that, you will have to complete and submit the relevant court forms. But keep in mind these forms can vary depending on the circumstances of the eviction.

This application initiates legal proceedings.

3. Court Hearing:

The court will schedule a hearing to consider your application for a possession order. Both you (as the landlord) and the tenant may be required to attend the hearing to present your cases. Within the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant the possession order.

4. Possession Order Granted:

The court will specify a date by which the tenant must leave the property if they grant a possession order against the tenant. This date can be a minimum of 14 days for a Section 21 Notice or depends on the court’s discretion for a Section 8 Notice.

5. Apply for a Warrant of Possession:

You can apply to the court for a warrant of possession if the tenant does not vacate the property by the date specified in the possession order. For that, you need to fill out form N325. This is the point at which bailiffs may become involved.

6. Bailiff Appointment:

The court will issue the warrant of possession. This warrant of possession authorises bailiffs to carry out the eviction. You will be required to pay a fee for this service.

The expense associated with evicting a tenant in the UK commonly falls between the range of £1,300 to £2,200. However, this amount may vary depending on whether you opt for the High Court or County Court route.

Landlords typically participate in the process but maintain a distance from the bailiff’s activities. By doing so, they hope to ensure their personal safety in case tenants exhibit aggressive behaviour.

An alternative method to regain control of the property is to transfer the case to the High Court if the possession order is disregarded.

7. Notification to the Tenant:

The tenant will receive notice of the eviction date from the court, allowing them to make arrangements to leave the property voluntarily.

8. Eviction by Bailiffs:

On the appointed date, the bailiffs will attend the property and enforce the eviction. This procedure can involve physically removing the tenant and their possessions if necessary. Plus, they will engage the services of a locksmith to take possession and promptly replace the locks.

But keep in mind these procedures should be done in accordance with the law and with a court order in place.

Additionally, please note that the specific procedures and timelines can vary depending on the type of notice, local rules, and the circumstances of the case. Therefore, It’s crucial to consult with a solicitor or legal professional to ensure you follow the correct legal procedures. It will prevent you from making mistakes that can lead to delays or legal issues.

Evictions must always be carried out in compliance with the law and the rights of tenants. Legal advice is highly recommended in eviction cases.

Warrant and possession order costs

It costs about £355 to process a Standard Possession order in general. However, the judge has the authority to assign any legal fees to the tenant.

You can opt for an accelerated possession order if you need to remove tenants quickly and you are not seeking rent arrears. Plus, this request carries the same fee as the standard process. This option is applicable when tenants have disregarded your Section 21 Notice.

Remember, a fee of £66 will be applicable if you choose to transfer a county court possession order to the High Court. Additionally, applying for a warrant for possession comes with a cost of £121.

How long does it take to get a county court bailiff warrant for possession?

Obtaining a warrant of possession typically takes approximately ten weeks on average. But keep in mind various factors, such as court backlog and specific case complexities, can influence this timeline.

How long does an accelerated possession order take?

For those in a hurry, the accelerated possession order is a swifter alternative. This route usually takes a shorter time, often within a few weeks (6 weeks to 10 weeks in general). But conditions apply, and landlords must meet specific criteria to be eligible.

How long does a possession order last?

Following the granting of a possession order, it retains its validity for a period of six years. You have the option to apply for a warrant of possession or transfer the case to the high court within this six-year timeframe.

How do bailiffs evict tenants?

When a court bailiff warrant is in place, the eviction procedure commences as an enforcement agent issues a two-week advance notice of the scheduled eviction date.

This eviction notice is typically dispatched in a transparent envelope to all individuals listed on the initial possession order, as well as to any other individuals currently residing in the property.

What happens when the county court eviction bailiffs arrive?

The Bailiffs will arrive at the property after passing the initial 2-week due date time period, usually in pairs. Usually, these agents will arrive between 9 am and 5 pm if they are from the county court.

But for high court enforcement agents, there is no limitation at which times they could visit the property. They are allowed to visit during unsociable hours, such as early morning and late at night.

At first, they will display to you their identification and the warrant of possession. Then, they will explain to you (for the accused tenant) about the situation.

Then, they will ask you to vacate the premises and hand over the keys. Surely, they will give you enough time to gather your belongings. But, it’s advisable for you to have your possessions mostly packed and ready for relocation.

Next, the bailiffs will remove you and your belongings from the property if you (as the accused tenant) don’t comply.

The enforcement officers may engage the services of a locksmith to gain access to the property if a situation where the tenant shows reluctance to vacate arises. The presence of a locksmith serves the additional purpose of enabling the landlord to replace the property’s locks once the eviction is complete.

How long does a county court bailiff eviction take?

The length can vary, but typically, the process from arrival to complete eviction spans a few hours. However, complex situations with resistant tenants can extend this duration.

It happens because bailiffs are not available for immediate or next-day service. Therefore, Landlords may experience a waiting period of more than a month before a county court bailiff is available to execute the warrant.

On the other hand, high court enforcement services typically offer a faster turnaround. With high court enforcement, the execution of the warrant and the eviction take place on the same day.

What happens when bailiffs evict a tenant?

The tenant and their belongings are removed from the property. The bailiffs will store your leftover belongings in a warehouse. However, storage fees may apply. Once the eviction is complete, the landlord will regain full possession of the property.

If you are facing a housing eviction, then you might qualify to get immediate housing assistance from your local council. This is especially applicable if you have health issues or if you are responsible for dependents residing with you.

Also, your council could still assist in locating a night shelter for you If you do not meet the criteria for emergency housing.

When will your landlord doesn’t need a possession warrant?

There are scenarios where eviction can proceed without a warrant of possession. It can be applied to tenants who are living on the same property as their landlords. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek guidance from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

Their guidance will come in handy if your landlord intends to carry out an eviction while you are living with them on the same property.

Can I Avoid Eviction?

To avoid eviction due to rent arrears, consider seeking other alternative debt solutions. Various debt solutions are available in the UK. But it’s advisable to consult with a debt charity for guidance tailored to your financial situation as there are unique conditions you need to fulfil in order to get acceptance for one of them.

These solutions include:

1. Debt Management Plan (DMP): A flexible, informal method for repaying debts via a single monthly payment without a binding commitment to a minimum number of payments.
2. Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA): A formal agreement between you and creditors where you make regular payments, usually over 5 or 6 years, and the remaining debt is written off at the end. IVAs are suitable for those with multiple creditors and some disposable income.
3. Trust Deed (for Scotland): Similar to an IVA but available in Scotland. Monthly payments are made to creditors. But within this period, your creditors can’t contact you. Plus, your remaining debt will be written off at the end of the agreement period.
4. Debt Relief Order (DRO): Debt Relief Order is a viable option for UK citizens who are facing financial hardship with no assets and low income. During a 12-month period, you make no payments, while creditors freeze interest and cease contact. If your finances don’t improve, you may be able to discharge your unsecured debts.
5. Bankruptcy: A solution for those unable to realistically repay their debts. While it provides a financial fresh start, bankruptcy is a significant step that should be carefully considered.
6. Sequestration (for Scotland): The Scottish equivalent of bankruptcy. If you have minimal income and no valuable assets, you may qualify for a Minimal Asset Process Bankruptcy (MAP), a quicker, more cost-effective version of sequestration.

Explore these options to address your financial difficulties and prevent eviction due to rent arrears. It’s crucial to seek professional advice to determine the most suitable solution for your unique circumstances.

If you’re unsure as to which debt solution is suitable for you, feel free to fill out our online form, and our Money Advisor Team will guide you.

I’m going to be homeless – help!

It’s daunting, but there’s help available. Several UK agencies provide assistance to those facing homelessness. They offer guidance, shelter options, and resources to help individuals get back on their feet.

For that, you can contact charities like Shelter for more guidance to handle these situations or to receive tenant support services.

Where can I get professional debt advice?

Debt can be overwhelming, but there’s assistance out there. Numerous UK-based organisations offer free, confidential advice to help individuals navigate their financial challenges. Knowledge is power, and seeking advice can be the first step towards resolution.

Consider reaching out to one of the following charity organisations for more help:

  • StepChange
  • National Debtline
  • Citizens Advice
  • Debt Advice Foundation

Alternatively, feel free to fill out our online form by clicking here if you want personal help from our Money Advisor Team based on your current financial standing.

Key Points:

  • The warrant of possession is rooted in a possession order. It is a court-issued directive allowing landlords to reclaim their property, primarily when tenants fail to meet their rental obligations.
  • It’s crucial to be aware that many individuals in the UK have the legal provision to write off a portion of their debt while facing eviction due to unpaid rent and debts.
  • The enforcement of possession orders is in the hands of bailiffs. However, before bailiffs can act, landlords need to secure a warrant of possession. This step ensures all actions are under the umbrella of legal frameworks.
  • Delving into the financial side, eviction procedures (with a warrant of possession) usually cost somewhere between £1,300 and £2,200. Additionally, if you’re wondering about timelines, anticipate around ten weeks to obtain the warrant.
  • The eviction mechanics: The enforcement agents typically offer a grace period of two weeks before making their move. If tenants remain unresponsive, these agents might resort to locksmiths to ensure entry and subsequent lock alterations.
  • Immediate housing options are available via local councils. Additionally, entities like Shelter are ever-ready to extend advice and support.
  • A pivotal recommendation for those grappling with the looming shadow of a warrant of possession: Seek expert counsel. For instance, UK-based debt charities can provide invaluable insights into one’s financial standing and suggest apt remedies.


Can County Court bailiffs evict you?

Absolutely. If you’ve failed to settle your dues or haven’t vacated the property by the end of your eviction notice period, County Court bailiffs hold the authority to evict you.

Can County Court bailiffs force entry?

It’s a bit of a mixed answer. Initially, they cannot barge into your home. However, they can use a locksmith to access the property if you consistently avoid payments, remain unresponsive, or still occupy the premises beyond the stipulated eviction notice. This process is strictly under the shadow of the “warrant of possession“.

What happens when a possession order is granted?

Typically, tenants adhere to a possession order and vacate the property on their own. Also, the landlord can call in a bailiff to ensure the tenant is removed from the premises if he is armed with their “warrant of possession“.

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