It is a familiar tale of frustration for landlords. Waiting months for an eviction date after obtaining a possession order has become an agonising process. Now, London landlords are facing a new obstacle: the suspension of evictions by Central London County Court in June 2023, coupled with a significant backlog of cases.

Eviction Delays: A Growing Crisis

For landlords with properties in London, the lengthy delays in obtaining eviction dates have been exacerbated by recent developments, including the Central London County Court’s suspension of evictions, citing a lack of equipment and health and safety concerns. Other courts have transferred bailiff functions to Stratford Housing Centre, leading to significant delays.

The situation is further complicated by a widespread bailiff shortage, increasing costs and wait times for landlords wanting to evict non-paying tenants in arrears. In the first quarter of 2023, landlord repossessions in county courts surged by 69% compared to the same period in 2022. This spike indicates an underlying problem that is likely to worsen as the abolishing of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions draws nearer.

High Court Enforcement: A Limited Option

Understandably, landlords are looking for alternative solutions. While possession claims can be issued and enforced in the High Court at higher speed, but also cost, the majority of possession claims are unlikely to meet the required thresholds. Moreover, the procedural cost and delays in obtaining relevant permissions make it an unlikely option for most landlords.

For cases that involve complicated disputes, points of law of general importance, or risks of public disturbance or harm, the High Court may be an option. However, cases concerning rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, unless truly exceptional, are unlikely to justify starting in the High Court. Transferring up to the High Court for enforcement may also appear tempting, but this is not a simple or universally applicable solution. The hurdles, including obtaining court permission, financial costs, and the risk of refusal, must be carefully weighed.

The County Court Act of 1984, specifically Section 42, enables cases to be moved to the High Court exclusively for enforcement. Applications can be made during the initial claim or after obtaining a possession order if there is a holdup with county court bailiffs.

In situations involving trespassers or Persons Unknown, landlords have the automatic right to shift the case to the High Court without asking the County Court. Though it might seem a convenient way to dodge delays within the county court, this approach does not fit all situations involving residential possession.

Simply complaining about county court delays might not be a good enough reason to move the case, as other landlords are likely experiencing the same issues. This could be seen as an unfair attempt to bypass the usual procedure. The situation may differ if the case is in Central London County Court, where no information about lifting the suspension is provided.

Additionally, if the request to transfer isn’t made at the initial hearing, a formal request is required, which could take months to process. By then, an eviction date might have already been set through the normal process, or the court might reject the request, leading to more expenses for the landlord. Thus, this method may not be the most effective or economical for all landlords in need of enforcement.

An Urgent Call to Action

The situation calls for a proactive approach, both in terms of short-term remedies and long-term investment in the court system. Organisations are urging County Court judges to consider transferring more eviction cases involving severe arrears to the High Court to resolve the mounting backlog. Others stress the importance of government investment, including a review of bailiff salaries, to improve recruitment and instil confidence in the buy-to-let market.

At Attwells Solicitors: How We Can Help

We recognise the distress these delays are causing our registered provider clients and others. The uncertainty is unsettling and places a financial strain on many.

While issuing and enforcement of possession claims in the High Court may not be suitable in most cases, we are committed to exploring all available options. We encourage landlords to consult with us on their situations. Together, we can assess the unique circumstances of each case and determine the best course of action. The current landscape is complex and challenging, but with expert guidance and persistence, we will continue to support our clients through these turbulent times.

If you would like further information or advice on the above, please contact Will Oakes in the Litigation Team at 01206 239764 or email

Receive a Quote