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Filling out a N5b Form

A new N5B form was issued by the courts for claims under the Section 21 accelerated possession procedure in August 2011.  The new N5B form most legal experts agree is more streamlined and more precise in the type of information asked for.  Accelerated possession  does not necessary mean the process if fast, read our Timetable of Section 21 Process of Possession. Though a court hearing is not normally necessary there is nothing about the law that moves quickly!

Can I fill out the N5B for possession of property?

It is possible to get a company to fill out your N5B.  They cost anything upwards from £300.  If you are lucky enough to rent out a property in Mayfair, this could easily be a couple of thousand quid.  Here’s a quick guide to filling out the form and potentially saving you a few hundred quid into the bargain.  If you do get stuck feel free to ask a question in our landlord legal forum.

Firstly, what is a N5B form?

An N5B is the form required if landlords are making a claim for possession of their property (accelerated procedure) (assured shorthold tenancy) in the County Court.  It’s the form needed following the use of a Section 21 Notice and is for non fault based possession. We provide a free Section 21 Notice.

Where do I get a N5B from?

The N5B form is available to download from the HM Courts & Tribunal Service.  The form itself comes in a downloadable PDF format.  If you are sending the papers by post don’t forget to send them recorded delivery and address them to the Court Manager of the court your are applying to.  The Court you need to apply to is the one nearest your buy-to-let property, not your home address.

What are the court costs of N5B possession?

The court fee is £280, payable to HMCTS.

How many copies of N5B will I need?

You will need a minimum of 3 sets of the N5B: one for the Court, one for the Court to send to the tenant and one that is returned to you.  If you have more tenants then you will need an additional N5B for each of the additional tenants.  It’s always advisable when preparing the forms to do a spare copy.  Therefore, I’d suggest a minimum of 4.

Now, the question arises on how you create your 4 copies. There are various options.  You could hand write all 4 copies of your N5B – not advisable unless you want severe wrist cramp.  The other option is to print off the PDF and then fill it in by hand and then photo copy.  It is also possible to fill the PDF online and then print it 4 times.  All are acceptable with the Courts but I would advise doing the latter because it’s the quickest and clearest.  If you write each one out, use black ink.  Just to let you know if you are thinking of being clever and saving the filled out N5B for your records.  Think again.  The Court Service in their wisdom has put a lock on the PDF so you can’t save the filled out version to reprint later (be warned).

The N5B form itself is not a monster of a form.  It has 4 pages that need filling in by the landlord.  There is a single back page that gives notes to the defendant (the tenant).  Remember, the form will go before the Judge.  Judges are trained at pinpointing legal inaccuracies and will show no mercy.  Get something even slightly wrong and it will be slung out immediately and sent back to you, often without explanation, for you then to work out which bit you have not got right.  Filling out the form is all about the detail.

As well as the form you will need an equal number of the following documents: the tenancy agreement (marked A1), the notice seeking possession (marked B), the proof of service (marked B1).
The government in their wisdom seem to have dispensed of the guidance notes that used to accompany the form.  If you have any questions about filling out your N5B please visit our Landlords Legal Forum and ask a question there.

Filling out page 1 of the N5B

Firstly, you’d think that filling in the claimant (landlords) and the Defendant (s) details would be straightforward. Not so.  I was told by the court clerk that just putting a name for the landlord and tenant is no longer sufficient.  You have to put in reference to their gender ie MR or MISS / MS.  There’s your first potential stumbling block over.

The front page now consists of the basic details of the claim.  The claimant details are obviously your details as the landlord, the defendant is the tenant and the possession details relate to your buy-to-let.

There is an additional box at the bottom for the defendants name and address.  This will be your buy-to-let address unless you know that your tenant is no longer residing full time in your property.
The court fee payable is £280.  When entering the solicitor’s costs you will have to decide whether you will ask the court for the defendant to pay them.  This is straightforward if you have a solicitor or are paying somebody else to do the work.  You just put in the amount you are being charged.  The situation is more difficult if you are undertaking the work yourself.  There is a convention that you can charge your time out at a third of the rate that a trained solicitor would charge.  However, there are issues that a novice landlord will take far longer to prepare the work than an experienced solicitor.  There is a danger that the judge throws out the case if they perceive that your costs are unreasonable.  That is the gamble as even judges are not always totally consistent in their interpretation of the law.

Filling Out Page 2 of Your N5B

Pages 2 and 3 of the N5B are seeking information on your rental property, the tenancy and whether notice has been given and the tenant’s rental deposit adequately protected under a Tenacy Deposit Scheme.

1. A landlord should just add in the details of their buy-to-let that they are seeking possession of.  In answer to whether the claim for possession relates to a demotion order, private landlords need to answer NO (it only relates to Local Authorites or Housing Trusts under the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003)

2. Question 2 is all about the tenancy.  When it was created.  This part highlights the benefits of having a written tenancy agreement even when legally one is not technically required.

3. The third question is testing when the assured shorthold tenancy was created.  If it was made after the 28th February 1997 there was no longer any requirement to serve notice that the tenancy remained an assured shorthold tenancy after the expiry of the fixed term.  Most assured shorthold tenancies will fall into this category making the second part of the question after (or) not relevant.

4.  Question 4 is to clarify that both the property that is being let and the landlord is the same as was the case at the start of the tenancy.

5. At the top of page three you need to give details about how notice of possession was given using the correct Section 21 Notice.You need to provide the date that possession was required and also the date that the notice expired on.  Remember you will need to get your dates right.  If you are not sure please place double check in the landlord forum.

6. Question 6 relates to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).  Have a look here to see if your rental property requires a landlord licence.

7.  Question 7 is a relatively recent addition resulting from the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.  You will need to add your reference number which ever is applicable under one of the approved schemes.  Make sure that you have legally protected your deposit, otherwise the accelerated form of possession using a Section 21 Notice will not be available to you.

8.  Question 8 refers to the discretion that the judge has to delay possession of the property and rather give the tenant 14 days, give them up to 42 days to vacate the property on the grounds that it would give the tenant exceptional hardship.  To say no would appear a no brainer if you want to get possession as quickly as possible.  However, this could be a trick question.  Firstly, if the court timetable is full it may be that the hearing date means that the hearing comes outside of the longest extension the tenant would have been granted even if the judge was feeling generous.  The other thing that one landlord pointed out if you do request a hearing and the tenant turns up on crutches and in tears.  Who do you think is going to win.  Added to this you may have given up a days work to attend the hearing.  The landlord is likely to feel they have lost hands down on every count.

9.   The final question is just a recap.  Make sure that you tick at least the first box requiring that the tenants (defendant(s) need to deliver up the property.  You will have to make a decision as to whether to get the costs of the claim.  Most landlords will opt to do this.

The final page is to ensure that the information is correct.  Make sure that the information you have given is accurate otherwise proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against you.  Remember to sign and date the statement of truth and fill in the details of your solicitor if you are using one.  Usefully, the certificate of service is now included in the N5B form.

Good luck!  If you need additional information on filling out the N5B form please post your questions to our free landlord legal forum.

Is it possible to get accelerated possession by evicting my tenants online?

A new online form which takes the place of the N5B form now allows landlords to go through the process of preparing the necessary paper work to evict their tenant.  There are several advantages to using the new government online form for accelerated possession:

1. A landlord will only have to fill out the new form once and then print it out.  It’s a great bonus to landlords without great handwriting.
2. The new online accelerated possession form is slightly simpler to use and fill in.

However, before landlords get too excited the form still has to be printed out and then submitted by post to the relevant court.  This means at least 3 copies of the new form along with the same number of copies of the tenancy agreement and the proof of service.

The conclusion is the form might be slightly quicker to fill out but there is still an awful lot of administration for a landlord to complete to lodge their legal claim for accelerated possession.  A small step forward but well short of an end to end online solution.

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