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Part 4: Gaining a Possession Order

Having realised that our tenant, Karen Holliday, had no intention of moving out of our home - and had stopped paying the rent or was paying intermittently - we quickly realised that we would have to take legal action to remove her. This meant we had to get a Possession Order.
More information about
Possession Orders

It was at this point that the skeletons started creeping out of the cupboard. Apparently, Karen Holliday had left her job upon having another baby and was now on Housing Benefit (and had been for some time, although we quite properly had not been told this; nevertheless, we found this hard to reconcile with the letting agent's advice that any rent increase would be hard for the tenant to bear). Patricia Shepherd RLMS worked hard to liaise between us and London Borough of Sutton Housing Department to try to resolve the situation.

It is fair to say that our letting agent, at this point, was going far beyond the terms of our contract with them and making no additional charges for doing so. We believed we were getting an excellent service from the firm - but we had yet to find out just how bad things were. Patricia Shepherd RLMS not only arranged for the Possession Order, they also represented us in court and liaised with the Housing Department on our behalf, thus saving us a fortune in lawyers' fees. They also managed to get Karen Holliday's Housing Benefit stopped and paid directly to them instead, so we did eventually get some money back.

The court duly issued the Possession Order at the end of April 2005, and Karen Holliday was given an additional two weeks to move out. We thus delayed our return to the UK because we were aware that it would be cheaper for us to stay put than to be in temporary accommodation there. The court had wanted us to be present to obtain the Possession Order in the first place but after we wrote and explained our situation, they took a more pragmatic approach and allowed Patricia Shepherd to represent us.

We arrived back in the UK just before the deadline imposed in the Possession Order in the mistaken belief that we would regain our house in the near future. Not so. Sutton Housing Department had advised Karen Holliday in the meantime that if she moved out then she would be voluntarily making herself homeless and as such they would not rehouse her.

Thus we found ourselves homeless in the UK. Initially we tried to make the best of it by having a week's holiday in Worthing - far enough away from London to get a cheaper hotel but close enough to be present in Sutton if required. The train fares from Worthing to Sutton were rather expensive, though.

The next step was to go back to the court to obtain a bailiff's warrant, and again Patricia Shepherd did this for us. We were warned that enforcement of the Possession Order (ie eviction) could take a month or six weeks depending on how busy the bailiffs were. Meanwhile we were paying the mortgage on our home where the tenant was living, receiving no rent from her, and paying for our own temporary accommodation. You can imagine the drain on our resources!

Eventually, out of desperation, we presented ourselves at Sutton Citizen's Advice Bureau as being homeless, but because we were between 18 and 60 years old and had no children, were advised that we could expect nothing. At the same time Patricia Shepherd was liaising with Sutton Housing Department, explaining how their policy was causing severe hardship for us.

Meanwhile, Patricia Shepherd arranged with another of her clients that we could have a "holiday let" on a house which had not yet been rented out. At £1,000 for the month it was not cheap but at least it was cheaper than bed and breakfasts, and we could cook our own food. However, we did wonder why the rent (for a frankly unattractive house; it smelt overwhelmingly of dog and was not particularly clean) was so much higher than ours at £800. The letting agent's staff told us that they hadn't realised that our house was furnished! We were flabbergasted at this - after all, they had taken the inventory when we entrusted the house to them.

However, it did go a little way to stop the haemorrhaging of our money. We stayed there until eventually the bailiffs moved in.

For more information about this process, please see our Possession Order page.

Many people will say that the easiest thing to do is go in and change the locks or use other "heavy" tactics. This is simply not true. You must use legal means to evict a tenant or the penalties can be very severe.


Part 5: moving back into our home

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To avoid confusion in case there are other persons of the same name: the Karen Holliday, aka Karen Davies, referred to on this website is the one who previously lived in Senga Road, Hackbridge and then at 30 Longfield Avenue, Hackbridge, Surrey, SM6 7BA, United Kingdom, from July 2001 until her eviction in June 2005. To the best of our knowledge she then continued to reside in the London Borough of Sutton.

LEGAL NOTICE: Remember - if it's true, it can't be libel.


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