Steps involved in evicting private tenants
This content applies to England only.
Housing laws vary between England and Scotland. Get advice relating to Scotland
There are steps landlords have to follow when evicting private tenants and not every tenant who rents from a private landlord has rights at each of these stages.
If your landlord has told you to leave, use our eviction checker to find out what process they are legally required to follow. Whatever stage an eviction is at, it's worth getting advice. Use our directory to find an advice centre in your area.
Landlords must give notice asking you to leave
The first step your landlord has to take to be able to evict you is to ask you to leave. Most tenants are entitled to a written notice. In some cases landlords do not have to give written notice before you have to leave. This normally only applies to people who share accommodation with their landlord or who are living in their accommodation on a very temporary basis.
The notice may be written in a formal way because it has to contain certain legal information. Where a notice is required, it must:
- be for a specific length of time
- state the date that your landlord wants you to leave
- give reasons why you are being asked to leave
- contain specific information such as where you can get advice.
For most types of tenants there are rules about how long your landlord has to give you before you have to leave and when the notice can be given.
Landlords must apply for a court order
If your landlord has given you notice to leave, but you haven't left by the time the notice expires, landlords usually have to apply for an order from the county court telling you to leave. This is known as a possession order. Most tenants are entitled to stay in their accommodation until a possession order takes effect.
Sometimes landlords are able to get a possession order automatically but other times they need to prove a reason to the court. There may be a court hearing.
Landlords can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you
If your landlord obtained a possession order requiring you to leave your rented home, but you haven't left by the date the court order says you have to, your landlord can ask the court to arrange for a bailiff to evict you. Bailiffs are employed by the court.
You will receive a letter from the court saying when the bailiffs will arrive. Bailiffs can physically remove you and your belongings from the property but must not use violence or unreasonable force in doing so.
Tenants can ask a court to stop an eviction by the bailiffs
It is sometimes possible to apply to the court to stop the bailiffs from evicting you. You should get specialist advice from a housing adviser or solicitor without delay if you want to prevent the bailiffs from evicting you.
Nobody other than a bailiff acting for the county court is allowed to physically remove you from the accommodation. If anyone else attempts to do this they may be guilty of illegal eviction - a serious offence.
Use our directory to find an adviser in your area.