This timetable shows how long it may take a landlord to obtain possession in a hypothetical case.

1 January: Tenant moves in, paying two weeks' rent in advance.

15 January: Tenant refuses to pay his rent.

21 January: Landlord writes a warning letter.

15 April: Landlord has still received no rent. He serves notice seeking possession, giving tenant two weeks' notice to quit. If the tenant is still at least 13 weeks behind at the court hearing, the court must grant possession to the landlord. If the arrears are less, the court usually exercises discretion in favour of the tenant.

1 May: Tenant ignores notice, so landlord completes summons paperwork and hands it to a county court.

7 May: Court posts summons to tenant, giving him time to reply.

28 May: No reply from tenant.

14 July: Tenant pays off some arrears and is given 28 days to pay the rest.

14 August: Court gives landlord a possession order for September 1.

1 September: Tenant refuses to leave. Landlord applies for bailiffs to evict.

21 September: Bailiffs arrive to find tenant has left. Landlord changes locks.

22 September: Landlord starts to look for new tenant - or decides never again.