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Have you been served with a notice about a possession hearing?

As with all things legal our advice is get legal advice as soon as possible and try and find a solicitor who has relevant experience in the area, not just a “jobsworth”, after all it is your home you might be losing.

Defend yourself – take action.! You will need to think about your situation and the result you want to achieve so consider carefully what needs to be done, especially if the landlord has used the accelerated procedure and, or the outcome of the hearing may result in a mandatory possession notice being served on you.

You need to make preparations immediately. If we assume you wish to defend yourself then unless you are very sure of your yourself and understand the grounds (reasons for your defence) and want to deal with the case yourself, get legal advice!. . You might wish to defend yourself for a few reasons, simply because you want to defend the claim or you want to ask for a delay the date for possession or even that you want to ask for more time to pay any money judgement or costs order that will be made against you. Generally requests for more time, or for an instalment order rent will be dealt with at the initial hearing so be prepared.

If a possession order is given against you its normally for 14 or 28 days depending on the circumstances. If your landlord is using the accelerated procedure (see section 21) then it is almost always 14 days. This doesn’t give you much time to get organised. So, If you are going to need more time than 14 days then you have to ask the court. The defence form is a best place to do this.

Its worth remembering also that, under in an accelerated procedure claim the case may well be seen by the judge earlier than would otherwise be the norm and if you do not have a defence in place the order for possession will be made at that time. Therefore, try and get your defence to the court no later than two weeks after you receive notice of the proceedings.

When possession is mandatory (as in a proceedings because of a Section 21 notice) there is normally no way the judge can delay possession. This can only be done under very exceptional conditions if you will experience exceptional hardship – you will need to prove this.

In other non-mandatory cases, maybe through a Section 8 notice, a judge has a discretion to suspend the order as they think fit, so if you want to have any chance of staying in your rented property you need to have a defence and agree to pay off any arrears on a monthly basis at which time the judge may issue a suspended possession order.

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