Most housing association tenants have an assured tenancy. Your landlord must get a court order and ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you.
Get advice if you are facing eviction
If you are facing eviction, get help now.
Contact the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345. You may be able to get help from a legal aid lawyer if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.
Anyone can call Shelter's free national helpline on 0808 800 4444 .
For face to face help, use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser at a Shelter advice service, Citizen's Advice or law centre.
Have the papers you received from the court with you when you speak to an adviser.
Are you a housing association assured tenant?
Most housing association tenants have an assured tenancy.
Some housing association tenants have fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies. You can be evicted in the same way as an assured tenant.
Ask your housing association if you are not sure what type of tenant you are.
Eviction for rent arrears
Rent arrears are a common cause of eviction. Before a housing association takes you to court because of rent arrears, it should follow the rent arrears protocol.
The rent arrears protocol sets out steps the housing association must take. It must:
- write to you about your arrears
- help you with your housing benefit
- offer other support if you are vulnerable
The housing association must try to reach an agreement with you to repay the arrears so that it can avoid taking you to court.
Find out more about eviction for rent arrears.
How the housing association can evict you
To evict you from an assured tenancy, the housing association must:
- send you notice to leave
- apply to the court for a possession order
- ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you
1. Notice from the housing association
If the housing association gives you notice to leave, it must be on a special form. This must:
- give the reasons or 'grounds' for wanting to evict you
- be for a set length of time
The set length of time is between two weeks and two months, depending on the grounds given in the notice.
When you are being evicted because of antisocial behaviour, the notice can take effect immediately. But this can only happen when the housing association is taking you to court using a discretionary ground. This type of ground allows the court to decide whether it is reasonable to evict you even if you have been guilty of antisocial behaviour.
The notice used is called a 'notice seeking possession' or 'section 8 notice'. The notice is valid for a year after the date the housing association gives it to you.
You do not have to leave when the notice period expires.
2. Housing association applies to the court
After the notice period has expired, the housing association must apply to the court for a possession order.
The court sends you a defence form and a summons telling you the time and date of the court hearing.
You should complete the defence form and return it to the court. The information you provide helps the judge decide if you can stay in your home.
You can send information to the court, go to the court hearing or both.
The court considers the reasons the housing association wants to evict you. It looks at the evidence from you and your landlord.
The court could decide to do one of these things:
- adjourn (postpone) your case to another date
- adjourn your case on a condition, for example that you pay your rent on time and regularly pay an amount towards the arrears
- grant an outright possession order which orders you to leave by a certain date
- grant a suspended possession order which means you can stay in your home if you keep to the conditions the court sets out
- dismiss the case against you
Go to the court hearing if you can. You have more chance of keeping your home if you do.
3. Eviction by bailiffs
The court can make an outright possession order that tells you to leave by a certain date.
If you stay beyond that date, the housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you.
If the court makes a suspended possession order, you can stay in your home so long as you keep to any conditions imposed by the order.
The housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you if you break the terms of the order.
Find out more about eviction by bailiffs.
Grounds for eviction by a housing association
The law sets out reasons why a housing association tenant can be evicted. These reasons are called 'grounds for possession'.
The housing association must prove there is at least one ground to evict you and must provide evidence to the court to prove its case.
The grounds are split into two types. These are mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds.
Eviction by a housing association on mandatory grounds
If your landlord proves there is a mandatory ground for possession, the court must make an order to evict you.
You can ask the court to delay your eviction up to a maximum of 42 days from the date of the hearing.
If you don't leave, the housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you. The court has no power to suspend the bailiffs warrant.
The mandatory grounds most likely to be used are rent arrears, antisocial behaviour and demolition or major works.
8 weeks' or 2 months' rent arrears
The court must make an order to evict you if you owe more than eight weeks' rent or two months' rent if you pay your rent monthly.
The reason why you have not paid the rent usually doesn't matter.
This ground only applies if you have this amount of rent arrears:
- at the time the housing association gave you the notice to leave, and
- on the date of the court hearing
You'll have a better chance of keeping your home if you can get your rent arrears below eight weeks or two months by the time of the court hearing,
If your rent arrears are less than 8 weeks or 2 months, the court cannot make a mandatory order for possession. It could decide that you should be evicted for rent arrears using a discretionary ground for possession instead.
You can be evicted if you or a member of your household or a visitor has already been convicted of antisocial behaviour.
This ground could be used if, for example, you have been convicted of:
- a serious offence
- a breach of a criminal behaviour order
- breaching a court order in relation to serious noise nuisance
There are also discretionary grounds for antisocial behaviour.
Demolition or major works
You could be evicted because the housing association wants to demolish or reconstruct your home.
You can also be evicted because the housing association needs to carry out major repairs on your home that can't be done while you live there.
Your landlord must pay your removal costs up to a reasonable amount.
Eviction by a housing association on discretionary grounds
It's not enough for the housing association to prove that there is a discretionary ground for eviction. The court must also decide that it is reasonable for you to lose your home.
The court should take into account if you are able to pay off any rent arrears or if you can take action to address any breaches of your tenancy agreement. It should consider any relevant circumstances such as your health and how long you have lived in your home.
The discretionary grounds most likely to be used are rent arrears, antisocial behaviour, breaking your tenancy agreement and making a fraudulent application.
Rent arrears and late payment of rent
The housing association can ask the court to evict you for any amount of rent arrears.
It can also ask the court to evict you if you are regularly late paying your rent.
You can be evicted for antisocial or violent behaviour, if you:
- cause a nuisance in your neighbourhood
- harass your landlord or their staff
- use your home for illegal activities, such as drug dealing
- are violent towards your spouse or partner and they leave home as a result
- commit an offence during a riot anywhere in the UK
You can also be evicted if a member of your household or a visitor behaves in this way.
There is also a mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour.
As an alternative to trying to evict you, your landlord could apply to the court to demote your tenancy if you or your family have been involved in antisocial behaviour. You can ask the court not to agree to this.
Breaking your tenancy agreement
You should be given a written tenancy agreement when you become a housing association tenant.
Your tenancy agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities of you as a tenant and the housing association as your landlord.
The housing association can take you to court if you break the terms of your tenancy agreement, for example if you don't:
- pay the rent on time
- pay the water charges included in your rent
- allow workmen in to carry out necessary repairs
You can be evicted if you lied to get your tenancy. For example, if you did not disclose that you owned another property when you filled in the application to go on the housing waiting list.