Eviction for rent arrears

Your landlord must take certain steps before they can evict you for rent arrears. Find out about the legal process and what you can do before and after eviction. 

What to do if you're in rent arrears

Eviction is a legal process. It takes time and many landlords only use it as a last resort.

Contact your landlord if you have problems paying your rent

You might be able to sort things out.

Steps your landlord must take to evict

Your landlord must usually give you notice and get a court order if you're: 

If you live with your landlord, they can give you reasonable notice to leave. They don't need to get a court order. They can't forcibly evict you but could change the locks once your notice or contract has ended.

If you leave because of rent arrears

You might decide to leave your tenancy because you can't afford the rent.

Things to consider before leaving include: 

  • if you'll need to apply as homeless
  • whether you can find anything more affordable
  • the extra costs you'll have to pay if the landlord goes to court

Don't feel pressured into leaving early, especially if you have nowhere else to go. It usually takes a few months for the eviction process to go through court. 

Ending your tenancy

If you decide to leave, you must end your tenancy properly or your rent arrears will continue to grow until the property is re-let.

Your landlord might agree that you can end your tenancy immediately or at short notice. Get any agreement in writing to avoid disputes later on.

If you have a rolling (periodic) tenancy, you must give at least 4 weeks' notice unless your landlord agrees to a shorter notice period. 

If you have a fixed-term tenancy, you'll need to negotiate an early end to the tenancy or check your contract for a break clause.

Finding a new home 

It can be difficult to find somewhere new to live if you're evicted or owe rent at a previous address. 

Renting privately

Most private landlords and letting agents ask for a reference from your previous landlord.

Help from the council

You can ask the council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home. You don't have to wait until you're evicted.  

The council must: 

The council might decide you're intentionally homeless if you left your previous tenancy before you had to or if the rent arrears were your fault.

The council might exclude you or give you less priority on the housing register if you have rent arrears, especially if you owe money to a council or housing association.   

It can help to come to an agreement to repay the arrears in instalments. 

Still need help?

Get advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction or homelessness because of rent arrears.

If you're on a low income, check if you qualify for legal aid.

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 if you qualify

You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:

Contact our expert advisers online, by phone or in person


Last updated 31 May 2018 | © Shelter

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