Find out the three steps your landlord has to follow to evict you from your private rented home.
Step 1: Section 21 notice
A section 21 notice is the most commonly used way to begin the three-step eviction process for renters with an assured shorthold tenancy contract.
If you're given a section 21 notice, you don't have to leave immediately. Landlords must give you at least two months' notice. Your landlord doesn't have to give a reason for wanting you to leave.
To be legal a Section 21 notice must:
- be delivered in writing and give you at least two months' notice
- be on a special form if you signed a new contract or a renewal agreement on or after 1 October 2015
Your landlord must also have followed certain rules for protecting your tenancy deposit and given you required tenancy deposit information.
Your landlord can't use a section 21 notice to evict you during the fixed term of your contract.
Step 2: Going to court
If you stay in the property after your two months' notice has ended, to get the property back your landlord must apply to court for a possession order.
Your landlord will usually get the possession order if they have served the section 21 notice correctly. The eviction process takes from 4 to 6 months, depending on how busy the court is.
You can challenge the eviction if the section 21 notice isn't valid.
The papers the court sends you include a defence form. Use it to reply to the court and explain why your landlord can't use the section 21 notice to evict you, for example because you complained about repairs or your tenancy deposit wasn't protected.
If you want the court to delay the eviction, you can ask for an extension to stay up to 42 days longer. This is only granted in exceptional circumstances. Use the defence form to ask.
After you send the court your defence form, it arranges a hearing. At the court hearing, you have a chance to put forward your case. The judge considers your situation and what the law says. The judge won't grant a possession order if you didn't receive a section 21 notice or if it isn't valid. Otherwise, the court will give you a date to leave.
You only have 14 days to send your defence form to the court. If you don't, the case can be dealt with using the accelerated possession procedure. This allows the court to grant your landlord a possession order without having a hearing.
A helpline adviser can look into your situation in more detail. Call Shelter's housing helpline on 0808 800 4444.
Step 3: Bailiffs
When a landlord is granted a possession order, the court sets a date for you to leave.
If you stay beyond this date, your landlord can ask the court to send a bailiff to evict you.
Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.
The court will send you a letter to let you know that the bailiffs are coming. This gives you time to pack your things.
Bailiffs can remove you and your belongings from the property but must not use force.
If you are worried about bailiffs, call Shelter's housing helpline on 0808 800 4444.