Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants

Guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors to explain the possession action process in the county courts in England and Wales.



This guidance is to help private landlords to understand their rights and responsibilities when they need to take possession of their property through the county court by explaining how the possession action process works. It will also help social landlords understand the new arrangements which will be in place when the stay on possessions ends.

It will assist tenants who have been served with a notice requiring or seeking possession and provides detailed information about each stage of the possession action process where the landlord makes a possession claim to the county court.

The guides also contain advice to help tenants and private landlords to resolve common disputes in tenancies, such as rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, without the matter needing to go to court.

Each of these guides includes advice on the new arrangements in the county court that were introduced on 21 September 2020. These new arrangements assist landlords and tenants whose circumstances have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and help to manage the flow of new and outstanding cases in the courts.

Published 17 September 2020
Last updated 7 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated with information about how to apply to extend the life of possession warrants which are nearing their expiry date, and to provide links to new Regulations which are in force restricting bailiff enforcement in England and Wales and to new mediation guidance.

  2. Guidance updated to 1) reflect the government’s commitment to extend the prevention of evictions by enforcement officers in England to 31 May 2021 and 2) confirm that legislation requiring landlords to provide 6 months notice to tenants in most cases has been extended until 31 May 2021.

  3. Guidance updated to reflect new legislation extending the prevention on enforcement of evictions in England during the national lockdown and launch of the mediation pilot.

  4. Updated to reflect the introduction of national lockdown measures and the extension of measures to prevent the enforcement of evictions in England and Wales, and to provide information about how these operate.

  5. Updated to reflect changes to the tier system and the introduction of a 4th tier from 20 December.

  6. Guidance updated to reflect the local restriction tier system that will be in place from Wednesday 2 December and to provide more information about how the exemptions to the restriction on bailiff enforcement operate in practice.

  7. Guidance updated to reflect the local restriction tier system that will be in place from Wednesday 2 December.

  8. Guidance updated to reflect new legislation to prevent enforcement of evictions in England during the period of national restrictions and over the Christmas.

  9. Guidance updated to reflect new national restrictions in England from 5 November.

  10. First published.