Repossession of Premises
The repossession of premises as distinct from the repossession of land, which is dealt with elsewhere, can be required for several reasons. For example a commercial tenants may have defaulted on his rent payments or breached his lease in some other way or they are commercial or residential premises which have been occupied by squatters or fly traders or a residential tenant who has breached his/her tenancy agreement.
A commercial tenant who is in breach of his lease can usually be ‘locked out’ but cannot be ‘kicked out’. What I mean by this is that there is no power to physically remove anyone from the premises who is resistant to being removed unless there is a Court Possession Order in place. The ‘peaceful repossession’ of premises ordinarily takes place out of normal business hours and involves changing the locks, the preparation of an inventory of contents and the display of a Notice advising of what has happened and referring enquirers to ourselves.
It is not unknown for tenant to break back in to the premises which is technically an offence of Criminal Damage and should be reported to the Police. Landlords sometimes place their own security staff in the premises in an attempt to prevent this happening. Any contents of the premises remain the property of the tenant who will need to be given access to them to remove them or the landlord will need to make the necessary arrangements.
Premises which have been occupied by squatters of fly traders can ordinarily only be repossessed by the issue of a Possession Order by the Court although I have in the past been successful in persuading them to leave.
Section 6 of The Criminal Law Act 1977, often referred to as ‘The Squatters Charter’ provides certain statutory rights and protection to squatters of which most are fully aware and they will post a notice on the door or in the window of premises they are occupying warning would be evictors of their rights. There are quite severe penalties for any breach of this legislation even though it is often very unpalatable to most landlords.
Court action to remove persons from premises is usually taken through the nearest County Court to which the premises are located and within the jurisdiction of that Court. The proceedings require the service of certain Court documents at the premises and from beginning to end it may take up to two weeks to obtain the Order for Possession. Once the Order has been granted it is the job of the County Court bailiff to execute the Order which will extend the delay although this part of the procedure can be fast tracked by the ‘transfer up’ of the proceedings to the High Court in which case the Order can normally be executed within 48 hours.
It is not ordinarily possible to deal with a Possession Order under the ‘transfer up’ procedure if the premises are residential and the occupancy is by the residential tenants who, for example may not have paid their rent or breached their tenancy agreement in some other way. I am able to deal with the peaceful repossession of premises, the service of all Court documents, the ‘transfer up’ of the County Court Possession Order to the High Court and the enforcement of a Court Order ‘transferred up’ to the High Court.