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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 during a starter tenancy

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

During your starter tenancy 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 during a starter tenancy. But it must follow the legal procedure outlined below correctly.

1. Send you notice 

Your housing association must give you a section 21 notice on a special form. They cannot give this notice within the first 4 months of your tenancy.

The section 21 notice gives you at least 2 months' notice. You do not have to leave when the notice period expires.

Some housing associations give you the chance to appeal a decision to end your tenancy. This gives you the chance to say why you should be allowed to stay. For example, if you can come to an arrangement to pay off any rent arrears.

The housing association can only give you a section 21 notice if you received the following documents at the start of your tenancy:

  • energy performance certificate
  • current gas safety record (if you have a gas supply in your home) 

2. Apply for a possession order

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

It cannot apply until the section 21 notice has expired. Court action must be started within 6 months of you receiving the notice.

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

The court will send you:

  • the date and time of your hearing
  • 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 a possession 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 14 days after the court hearing.

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.

Faster eviction from a starter tenancy

The fastest way to be evicted is through accelerated possession proceedings. 

A court hearing is not needed for this but the housing association must still:

  • apply to court for a possession order
  • use bailiffs to evict

The court will send you a defence form when the housing association applies to court.

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 proceedings if it is applying for a court order telling you to pay off rent arrears at the same time.

Eviction for a legal reason

Housing associations usually take section 21 eviction proceedings if they decide to evict starter tenants.  

Your housing association could choose to follow the procedure for evicting fully assured housing association tenants instead.

If this process is used the court may be able to delay eviction in certain circumstances.

Find out more about the eviction of housing association tenants


Last updated 15 May 2017 | © Shelter

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