Steps involved in evicting private tenants

There are steps landlords have to follow when evicting private tenants. But not every tenant who rents from a private landlord has rights at each of these stages.

Landlord must give notice to ask 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 usually only applies to people who share accommodation with their landlord or who are living in their accommodation on a very temporary basis.

The form the notice takes and the length of the notice period the landlord must give you depends on the type of tenancy you have.

Landlord 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.

Landlord can ask a 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 receive a letter from the court saying when the bailiffs will arrive. Bailiffs can remove you and your belongings from the property but must not use violence or unreasonable force to do this.

Ask a court to stop bailiffs evicting you

If you are a tenant, it is sometimes possible to apply to the court to stop the bailiffs from evicting you. 

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 your home. If anyone else attempts to do this they may be guilty of illegal eviction, a serious criminal offence.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

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