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Eviction of housing association starter tenants

If you are a new housing association tenant, you may be given a starter tenancy. It is easy for the housing association to evict you.

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Eviction at the end of a starter tenancy

A starter tenancy is a trial tenancy given to many new housing association tenants. It usually lasts for a fixed term of 12 months.

After the end of your fixed term, you can be evicted easily, for example if you:

  • owe rent
  • have damaged your home
  • are involved in antisocial behaviour 

The eviction process 

The housing association doesn’t have to prove a legal reason to evict you. But it must follow the legal procedure outlined below correctly.

1. Send you notice 

Your landlord must serve you with a section 21 notice. This must be in writing and must not expire for at least two months.

The section 21 notice can be served before the end of the trial period.

You do not have to leave when the notice period expires.

If your tenancy started or was renewed on or after 1st October 2015, the section 21 notice must also:

  • be on a special form
  • not be given to you until at least four months after the start of your original tenancy
  • not be served until after you have been provided with a copy of an energy performance certificate and current gas safety record (if you have a gas supply in your home) 

Your landlord must start court action within 6 months of the date you received the section 21 notice.

Some housing associations give you the chance to appeal its decision to end your tenancy. This gives you the chance to say why you should be allowed to stay. For example, you are now working more hours and will be able to pay off any rent you owe. The housing association then decides if it will carry on and go to court or not.

2. Apply for a possession order

The housing association must apply to the court for a possession order to evict you.

It cannot apply until the:

  • section 21 notice period has expired
  • fixed term of your tenancy has expired 

There will be a hearing where a court will decide whether to grant the possession order.

The court writes to inform you of the date and time of your hearing. You’ll also be sent a defence form, to be returned within 14 days.

Usually your only defence would be if the housing association has not followed the right procedure to evict you, for example if the section 21 notice it gave you is invalid.

You can ask the court to allow you up to 6 weeks before the order takes effect but only if you would suffer exceptional hardship if you had to leave sooner.

3. Eviction after possession order

The possession order gives the date you have to move out. This will usually be in 14 days.

If you stay in your home after the date the court says you have to leave, the housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you.

Fast eviction from a starter tenancy

The fastest way to be evicted is through accelerated possession proceedings. A court hearing is not needed for this.

After the housing association applies to the court for a possession order, the court will send you a defence form.

Return the form to the court within 14 days if you think the section 21 notice is not valid or if you want the court to postpone the possession order for up to 42 days. The court can only postpone the order in cases of exceptional hardship.

The housing association cannot use accelerated possession proceedings if it is applying for a court order telling you to pay off rent arrears.

Eviction before your starter tenancy expires

If your housing association wants to evict you before your starter tenancy has expired, it must follow the procedure for evicting assured tenants of housing associations.

The housing association can only evict you before the end of the fixed term if there are legal reasons such as rent arrears, breaking your tenancy agreement or damaging the property.

To evict you, the housing association must:

  • send you notice to leave on a special form
  • apply to the court for a possession order after the notice period expires
  • ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you

Last updated 13 Apr 2017 | © Shelter

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