Eviction for antisocial or criminal behaviour
This content applies to England only.
Housing laws vary between England and Scotland. Get advice relating to Scotland
Landlords may try to evict tenants for their own or a family member’s criminal or antisocial behaviour. Find out what can happen if you are a council, housing association or private tenant.
If you have been threatened with eviction because of anti-social behaviour, get advice immediately. If you do nothing and the behaviour continues, you could end up homeless and may not be entitled to any help from the council. Use our directory to find an adviser in your area.
Alternatively, call the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0845 345 4345.You may be able to get help from their legal advisers if you qualify for Legal Help funding. Be prepared to answer questions about your income and savings so the helpline adviser can tell you if you qualify.
Council and housing association tenants
A council or housing association landlord can ask a court to evict you if you someone in your household or someone visiting you:
- has been guilty of causing a nuisance locally
- has been convicted of using your home for illegal or immoral purposes (such as drug dealing)
- has been convicted of an offence committed in your home or the surrounding local area.
Tenants will generally be held responsible for the conduct of their children or grandchildren who live with them, and may also risk eviction because of the behaviour of other people who live with them or visit them.
You could be evicted following convictions for offences committed in your home or in the streets around your area. This includes growing or dealing drugs on your premises, or in your local area. The court can decide to use its discretion to order or prevent your eviction.
The council or housing association has to follow certain rules if they want to evict you and should only use eviction as a last resort.
Sometimes a court will order that you should be evicted, but may suspend or postpone the eviction on condition, for example, that you do not re-offend. In the case of serious criminal offences, the court should only do this if there is firm evidence that your criminal behaviour has stopped.
Alternatives to eviction
Rather than seeking to evict you, council and housing association landlords are likely to first take action in other ways, such as applying for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) or asking the court to demote the tenancy. Your landlord could evict you very easily if the antisocial behaviour continues while your tenancy is demoted (this typically lasts for one year, but is sometimes longer).
The council or housing association are likely to monitor the situation closely and will decide if they need to take any further action. This may depend on:
- how serious the antisocial behaviour has been
- if they have already tried to take action in other ways, and
- if the behaviour has improved.
Council and housing association tenants with a demoted council tenancy or a demoted housing association tenancy are not the only tenants that can be evicted fairly easily. If you or your someone in your household behaves antisocially, you could also easily be evicted from:
- an introductory council tenancy
- a starter tenancy with a housing association
- a family intervention tenancy
- a temporary tenancy that was granted when you made a homelessness application.
If you receive any papers saying that your landlord is going to apply for a court order to evict you, get advice immediately. If you want to stop the eviction, you will need help from an adviser to challenge the decision.
If you are evicted because of antisocial behaviour, you may find it difficult to be re-housed as homeless as the council may consider you to be intentionally homeless. You may also be excluded from council waiting lists because of unacceptable behaviour.
Tenants of private landlords
Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy - a type of tenancy that makes it very easy for a landlord to evict you, providing you are given the correct notice. Other private tenants may also be evicted fairly easily, and may only be entitled to limited notice - the rules on how and when you can be evicted depend on the type of tenancy you have, and what your tenancy agreement says. For example, if you are an excluded occupier, eg you live in the same property as your landlord, you may only be entitled to 'reasonable notice' – this is not defined by law.
Most private tenants can be evicted for criminal or antisocial behaviour, particularly if their tenancy doesn’t allow them to cause nuisance or annoyance to neighbours, use the property for illegal or immoral purposes (for example, to grow or deal drugs, or use the property as a brothel), or allow someone else to do so.
Use our tenancy checker to find out what kind of tenancy you have and what procedures the landlord has to follow. It is always a good idea to get in touch with an adviser to find out whether there's anything you can do to keep your home.
What action can neighbours take?
If a landlord decides not to evict an anti-social tenant, it may be possible for neighbours who are affected by the behaviour to take action by complaining to the landlord, complaining to an ombudsman or taking legal action such as applying for an injunction.
Making a formal complaint
Council or housing association landlords will have a formal complaints procedure that you can use. In many cases you have to follow this before you can take any further action. You could also consider complaining to a private landlord.
Complaining to the ombudsman
The Local Government Ombudsman deals with complaints about councils, and the Housing Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about housing associations. There is no ombudsman dealing with complaints about private landlords.
The ombudsman can only look into your complaint if you have already tried to use the council/ housing association’s formal complaints procedure but are not satisfied with the outcome. The ombudsman has made a number of recommendations that councils should pay compensation to victims and/or review their policies.
Applying for an injunction
An injunction is a court order made against one or more people. Usually an injunction orders someone not to do something, for example not to make noise or not to shout abuse at neighbours.
Sometimes an injunction orders someone to do something, for example to clear rubbish or to put down a carpet to limit noise. Injunctions sometimes have a power of arrest attached. This means that the police can arrest the person who breaks the injunction, take them to court and ask that they are sent to prison.
Typical examples where the court can make an injunction to stop antisocial behaviour are situations where:
- a landlord wants a tenant to comply with what the tenancy says (eg not annoying neighbours)
- neighbours want to stop harassment
- a council or a housing association want to stop antisocial behaviour where there is a risk of violence.
An injunction can work well where a person who has behaved in an anti-social way wants to change their behaviour. Injunctions may not work where people can't or won't change, and they cannot be used against people who don’t understand what they are doing wrong or how to stop.