Money Wellness
An eviction notice lying on a table with some house keys on top of it

What to do if you’re facing eviction

If your landlord wants to evict you, there are certain procedures they have to follow. This guide looks at those procedures for the landlords of private, council and housing association tenants.

Private tenants

If you rent privately, you’re probably an assured shorthold tenant (AST).

If you have fallen behind with your rent payments as an AST, your landlord may try and evict you. There are certain procedures landlords have to follow if they want to do this.

Legal notice

If your landlord wants to evict you, they need to give you either a:

  • section 21 notice
  • section 8 notice

Section 21 notice

This is the most common way for a landlord to begin the process of eviction. They don’t need to provide a reason for the eviction with this type of notice. But they have to give you at least two months’ notice.

You don’t have to leave your home as soon as the section 21 notice period ends. It just means your landlord can start court action. They need to do this within four months, or the notice will expire.

If you stay past the date on a section 21 order, your rights and responsibilities continue as before. This means you should keep paying your rent and only agree to move out if you have found somewhere else to live.

Court action after a section 21 notice

After the notice period ends, your landlord mut apply to court for a possession order to evict you. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for them to get the court order.

A judge will look at the information provided by you and your landlord to decide if a hearing is needed.

If the section 21 notice is valid, the court has to make a possession order. The possession order will have a date for possession on it, but you don’t have to leave your home by this date.

Eviction by bailiffs following a section 21 notice

You can only be evicted from your home by court bailiffs.

If you don’t leave by the date for possession, your landlord can ask bailiffs to evict you. Bailiffs need to give you at least two weeks’ notice before evicting you.

Section 8 notice

A landlord can only give you a section 8 notice if they have a legal reason for wanting to evict you. The most common reason is rent arrears. You’ll get a minimum of two weeks’ notice for rent arrears.

You may also be given a section 8 notice for things like antisocial behaviour.

As soon as the notice period ends, your landlord can start court action. They have a year before the notice expires.

Court action after a section 8 notice

If your landlord applies for a possession order, you will be sent a claim form and a defence form.

Check the claim form for mistakes or anything you disagree with. Use the defence form to tell the court if you have reasons you shouldn’t be evicted. If you need it, get legal help to complete the defence form.

You should then go to the court hearing. Your notice of possession will tell you:

The court might:

  • grant the possession order
  • dismiss the case
  • make a suspended possession order – this lets you stay in your home if you meet certain conditions

Eviction by bailiffs following a section 8 notice

You can only be evicted from your home by court bailiffs.

Your landlord might use bailiffs if you:

  • stay past the date in an outright possession order
  • break the conditions in a suspended possession order

The bailiffs must give you at least two weeks’ notice of the date of eviction.

Council and housing association tenants

If you’re a council or housing association tenant, your landlord can usually only evict you with a legal reason.

There are four stages to the process.

  1. Notice

You’ll receive a notice seeking possession from your council or housing association.

This will state the earliest date court action can start.

How much notice landlords need to give you depends on:

  • the reason they want to evict you
  • when you were given notice
  • whether you rent from the council or a housing association

You can expect:

  • four weeks’ notice if you have a secure tenancy
  • two weeks’ notice if you have an assured tenancy
  • two months’ notice if a housing association wants to evict you and there is no fault on your part e.g. redevelopment or demolition.
  • no notice in certain antisocial behaviour cases
  1. Court action

Once the date in your notice seeking possession passes, your landlord can start court action. They have a year to do this before the notice expires.

You'll get a defence form from the court to complete. Get legal help to do this and return it within 14 days.

  1. Court hearing

You should make every effort to attend the court hearing, even if you didn’t return your defence form.

Find out how to get free legal help on the day.

The court might:

  • grant an outright possession order
  • make a suspended possession order – this lets you stay in your home if you meet certain conditions
  1. Eviction

The council or housing association might ask bailiffs to evict you if:

  • you stay past the date in an outright possession order
  • break the conditions in a suspended order

You'll get at least two weeks’ notice of the eviction date.

Help if you’re facing eviction

If you’re facing eviction and would like advice, Shelter can help.

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