See how you can prevent eviction or defend the case if it goes to court.
Where to get advice
You lose a lifetime tenancy if you're evicted from an assured housing association tenancy. Most housing association tenants have this tenancy type.
Get advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction.
You may qualify for legal aid (free advice or representation) if you're on a low income:
You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:
Have your notice and court paperwork with you when you speak to an adviser.
The eviction process
To evict you from an assured housing association tenancy, a housing association must take these steps:
1. Send you notice to leave
The housing association must give you notice on a special form that sets out the:
- reasons for wanting to evict you
- length of notice (usually 2 weeks or 2 months, depending on the reasons)
The form is called a 'notice seeking possession' or 'section 8 notice'.
You do not have to leave when the notice period expires.
2. Start court proceedings
The housing association can apply to the court for a possession order when the notice period expires. They must apply within 12 months of giving you notice.
If more than 12 months have passed, the housing association must give you a new notice before they can start proceedings.
After the application is made, the court sends you a:
- claim form with the reasons the housing association wants to evict you
- defence form to complete and return to the court within 14 days
- time and date for the court hearing
In cases of serious antisocial behaviour, a housing association can apply to court straight after giving you notice.
3. Attend court and ask for a possession order
Your housing association will attend the court hearing and ask the court to make a possession order.
The court could decide to do one of these things:
- grant an outright possession order - this gives you until a certain date to leave
- grant a suspended possession order - this means you can stay if you keep to conditions the court sets
- adjourn - this postpones your case to a later date
- dismiss the case against you
The court considers the reasons the housing association wants to evict you. It looks at the evidence from you and your landlord.
If the court decides you should be evicted, it can consider reasons why the eviction date should be delayed.
4. Apply for bailiffs to evict you
Your housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you if you:
- break the terms of a suspended order
- stay past the date a court order says you must leave
How to challenge eviction
Talk to your landlord
It's always worth negotiating to prevent court action. The housing association should follow rules to make sure eviction is a last resort.
Reply to the court
You can provide information to the court on your defence form to help it decide what should happen.
Attend the court hearing
You have a better chance of keeping your home if you go to the court hearing. The court will listen to what you have to say and take account of any evidence you provide.
You can attend the hearing even if you didn't send a defence form to the court.
You may be able to get legal help free of charge from an adviser at the court.
Contact your local court for details of their housing possession court duty scheme.
Challenge eviction by bailiffs
It is sometimes possible to take court action to challenge eviction by bailiffs.
When the court must order eviction
The court must order your eviction from an assured housing association tenancy if your landlord proves a mandatory ground (legal reason) for eviction.
These are the most common mandatory grounds for eviction:
Assured tenants with serious rent arrears
Some housing associations use 'ground 8' if you have serious rent arrears.
Under ground 8 the court must make an order to evict you if you owe more than either:
- 8 weeks' rent if you pay weekly
- 2 months' rent if you pay monthly
Your rent arrears must be above these levels on both the date the housing association gave you notice to leave and on the date of the court hearing.
Assured tenants guilty of serious antisocial behaviour
You can be evicted if you or a member of your household or a visitor has already been convicted of antisocial behaviour.
The court must make an order for you to be evicted for example if you have already been convicted of:
- a serious offence
- a breach of a criminal behaviour order
- breaching a court order about serious noise nuisance
Starter tenants with a trial tenancy
The court must agree to evict you from a housing association starter tenancy if your housing association has followed the correct procedures.
The housing association doesn't have to prove to the court that there's a reason you should have to leave.
You'll be at risk of eviction from a housing association demoted tenancy if antisocial behaviour continues.
The court must order you to leave if the housing association follows the correct procedures.
When the court could order eviction
The court will decide if it is reasonable to evict you from your tenancy if your landlord proves a discretionary ground for eviction.
Most court proceedings against housing association tenants are made on discretionary grounds.
These are the most common discretionary grounds used:
Usually the court can decide if it is reasonable to evict you for rent arrears.
You could be evicted if you, a member of your household or a visitor:
- cause a nuisance in your neighbourhood
- use your home for illegal activities such as drug dealing
- are violent towards your partner and they leave home as a result
Breaking your tenancy agreement
- don't pay the rent on time
- refuse to allow workmen in to carry out repairs
- keep pets without permission
Last updated 24 May 2017 | © Shelter
If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help