Applying to court for a possession hearing

Last reviewed 8 April 2024


Most landlords will not have to attend a court hearing to regain possession of their property. The average length of a tenancy is four years and the vast majority of tenancies are ended when the tenant chooses to give notice and leave. 

However, sometimes a landlord has to take action to regain possession of their property. In these cases the landlord will have to serve a notice and follow it up with an application for a possession order if the tenant doesn't leave at the end of the notice period.

Unless the tenancy is an excluded one (such as a lodger), a tenant is entitled to remain in possession of a property until such time as a bailiff enforces a possession order. 

This guide provides information on applying to court for a possession hearing rather than applying for possession via the accelerated possession procedure. 

When should I apply to court for a hearing rather than using the accelerated possession procedure?

The accelerated possession procedure is the most common route to a possession order. This route allows landlords to apply for a possession order without usually needing to attend a hearing. Instead the landlord sends off the necessary paperwork for a judge to assess. If successful the possession order will be issued without the need for a hearing. It is only available where all of the following apply:

  • the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement
  • a valid Section 21 notice has been served and the notice period has expired
  • you are not seeking an order for rent arrears
  • you are the original landlord
  • you have all copies of a written tenancy agreement (oral tenancies are not allowed)

For any other situation you must apply to court for a hearing.

Court fees set to increase from May 2024

The Government has announced that many court fees are set to increase by 10% from May 2024. 

For possession claims this means that fees will increase to -

  • £391 for making a possession claim (currently £355)
  • £303 for general applications to set aside or vary an order (currently £275)
  • £143 for applying for a warrant of possession (currently £130)

The Government has not given an exact date in May when these new fees will apply from so the fee may change with short notice. With that in mind, if you make a possession claim or apply for a warrant you should make sure to check the list of court fees available on the Government website (EX50) before applying to see whether the old fee or the new fee applies.

How do I apply to court?

Once your notice has expired you can apply for a possession hearing by filling out the N5 and N119 forms. 

If you have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy and you are seeking possession exclusively because of rent arrears, you can apply for a possession hearing online by starting your claim through Possession Claim Online. This means you will have served a Section 8 notice citing grounds 8, 10 and 11 as the reason for possession.

Completion notes for court forms

To help our members regain possession where needed, the NRLA has produced some completion notes for the N5 and N119, as well as a warrant for possession (N325) and bailiff risk assessment (EX97A). 

Members only

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