As a commercial landlord, you allow your commercial tenants to have the sole occupation of your commercial property. You do so through a commercial lease with a commercial lease agreement that sets out the rules within the commercial lease. One of these is the lease end-term date when their occupation of your commercial premises ends. Unfortunately, there are times when tenants do not vacate the premises on the date they should. This means you will need to regain possession of your property. If you do so through the County Court, there are procedures and rules to follow to ensure you get back possession. This article will explain how a commercial landlord can gain possession of their commercial property through the County Court.
Possession Through the County Court
As a commercial landlord, you may try to gain back possession of your commercial property in the UK in various ways. One way to do so is through the County Court. There are certain types of claims that the procedure is suitable for, such as:
- expiry of the commercial lease;
- lease forfeiture; and
- release from forfeiture.
When you wish to gain possession of your commercial property through the County Court, you must follow the procedure known as CPR 55. The CPR 55 covers specific types of claims for possession of the property, as mentioned above.
When a person complies with court procedures and rules, you may have heard of the need to comply with pre-action protocols or conduct. This refers to a person’s steps before formally taking the court route. However, there is no need to carry out any pre-action protocols or conduct for possession of commercial property.
1. Choosing a County Court
As a commercial landlord wishing to gain possession through the CPR 55 procedure, the first step is to select the court to which you want to take the claim. In theory, you can choose any court to do this. This may influence you to choose one close to where you are situated. However, the County Court should serve the address of the property you wish to gain possession of.
2. Complete Claim Form
The next step in seeking possession of commercial property is to complete a claim form. The claim form is CPR 55.4. When completing the claim form, you should note that the defendant is your tenant, and the claimant is the landlord seeking possession.
The form will require you to complete the particulars of the claim, including:
- the address of the commercial property;
- confirming that the claim is a commercial one;
- why you are seeking possession, which will be the grounds for possession;
- the details of the lease agreement, which you should attach a copy of to the claim; and
- the names of the person currently in control of the property.
Some courts will allow you to start possession proceedings online. If the County Court allows this, you can only complete the possession claim online, where your reason for wishing to gain possession is due to non-payment of rent. If you complete the form online, you will be asked for the same information the paper form asks for. However, instead of completing the account’s history, you have the option to write a summary of the rent arrears. If the rent arrears cover two or more years, you must complete a full schedule instead. This is a witness statement.
If you are seeking possession of a former tenant, the particulars require further information, which is:
- stating you are the original landlord;
- verifying that the person listed as the defendant is the actual tenant;
- confirming that the defendant is still in possession of your property; and
- explaining how the lease ended.
3. Action the Form
In many court claims, a form is filed with the court and served on the defendant with the particulars. However, when you seek possession of your commercial property, both the form and particulars should be done together for both the court and the defendant. The latter should be within 21 days before the court hearing date.
There are also rules about how to serve the form, which is either:
- in person;
- by first class post; or
- going to the tenant’s last address, you know of and leaving the form and particulars.
This cheat sheet outlines what you should be aware of in your lease agreement.
Suppose you are in the unfortunate situation that you need to gain possession of your commercial property. In this case, there is a set procedure you must follow. Firstly, you should select the correct court to hear your claim. Then, you must complete the claim form and the particulars of the claim. This can vary slightly if you apply online. You need to serve the form and particulars together to the court and claimant, where the latter must be done within 21 days before the court hearing date.
If you need help understanding how, as a commercial landlord, you can gain possession of your property through the County Court, LegalVision’s experienced leasing lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. So call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.
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