You could be a regulated tenant with strong tenancy rights if you have a tenancy that started before 15 January 1989. Find out about your landlord's right to evict you.
If you are being threatened with eviction you should contact an adviser as soon as you can. Don't give up your home without doing this. Call our advice helpline or use our directory to find an advice centre in your area.
What are my rights?
If you are a private tenant, your rights will depend on the type of living arrangement you have, the date you moved in and the agreement you have with your landlord. Regulated tenants have stronger rights than most other private tenants.
If you are a regulated tenant you have strong tenancy rights. You can only be evicted:
- if your tenancy is at the statutory stage and
- your landlord can prove a reason (or 'ground') to the court.
Your landlord must get a possession order from the court. The court will only give a possession order if your landlord proves the reason or 'ground' on which you are being evicted. The court may only be able to make a possession order if it is reasonable to do so. This will depend on why you are being evicted.
Does it matter what stage my tenancy is at?
Regulated tenancies have two stages. The first is the contractual stage which lasts for the duration of your original agreement with your landlord. Your tenancy is in the contractual stage if:
- the tenancy was for an initial fixed-term and this has not yet ended
- the tenancy was periodic from the start and your landlord has not served a notice to end the contractual stage of your tenancy (called a 'notice to quit').
In general, as no new regulated tenancies can have started since 15 January 1989, it is quite unlikely that your tenancy is still in the contractual stage.
Once the contractual stage comes to an end your tenancy then enters the statutory stage. The contractual stage ends if:
- the fixed-term runs out
- your landlord serves a valid 'notice to quit', or a notice to increase the rent which is the same length as a notice to quit.
It is only possible for your landlord to get a court order to evict you once your tenancy is in its statutory stage.
When can the landlord apply for a court order?
If your tenancy is at the statutory stage the landlord can apply for a possession order from the court. The court will only make a possession order if your landlord can prove a reason. The grounds that landlords can use are divided into two types: mandatory/ or compulsory grounds and discretionary grounds.
Mandatory grounds for eviction
If your landlord can prove a mandatory ground for possession the court has no option other than to make a possession order to evict you.
These grounds cannot be used unless the landlord has given you prior notice that the ground may be used. This means that before your tenancy started you must have been told in writing that you may be evicted for one of these reasons:
- your landlord (or a member of your landlord's family in some circumstances) wants to return to live in the property (and lived there previously)
- your landlord wants to retire to the property
- a minister of religion normally occupies the property and needs to live there
- an agricultural worker normally occupies the property and needs to live there (and you are not an agricultural worker)
- your landlord is a member of the armed forces and intends to live there after discharge.
In addition, if you are no longer living in the property at all the landlord will be able to get a possession order to evict you.
Discretionary grounds for eviction
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground for possession the court has to consider whether it is reasonable for possession to be granted before an order can be made.
The courts have wide discretion in deciding what is reasonable and your circumstances can be taken into account. Even if the court does grant possession to your landlord it can still suspend or postpone possession.
Discretionary grounds include:
- suitable alternative accommodation is available for you (this could be another private tenancy or council accommodation)
- you have rent arrears
- you have breached the terms of your tenancy agreement
- you have caused nuisance or annoyance
- the furniture or condition of the property has deteriorated
- you have assigned the tenancy or sublet without the landlord's consent
- you were employed by your landlord and the accommodation is needed for a new worker
- your landlord or a member of your landlord's family needs the property to live in more than you do.
What happens after the court order?
After a court order takes effect your landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you if you have not left the property.
Could the eviction be illegal?
It is against the law for your landlord to try to evict you without getting a court order. There might be things you can do to stop the landlord from doing this. The council or an advice agency might be able to help.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Last updated: 1 January 2014