See how you can prevent eviction or defend the case if it goes to court.
Get advice if you are facing eviction
It may be possible to challenge an eviction. Get advice as soon as you can.
You may qualify for legal aid (free advice and representation) if you're on a low income. If you don't qualify, there are options for free legal support
It helps if you have documents such as the notice from your landlord and any court papers with you when you ask for legal help.
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 notice is called a 'notice seeking possession' or 'section 8 notice'.
It must be on a special form that sets out the:
- grounds for possession
- earliest date that your landlord can start court action
Grounds for possession are the legal reasons that the housing association wants to end your tenancy.
You usually get at least 2 weeks' notice of court action but the housing association can apply to court immediately in some cases of nuisance or antisocial behaviour.
You get 2 months' notice if the landlord wants to the property back for a reason that's not your fault. For example, demolition, reconstruction or redevelopment of the property.
2. Start court proceedings
The housing association can apply to the court for a possession order once the date in the notice has passed.
The court then 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 of the court hearing
The housing association must start court action within 12 months of the date you get your notice. After this, the notice is no longer valid.
3. Attend the court hearing
Your housing association will go to court and ask for a possession order.
Depending on the situation, the court may:
- make an outright possession order
- make a suspended possession order
- adjourn the hearing to a later date
- dismiss the case
The court considers the reasons the housing association wants to evict you. It looks at the evidence from you and your landlord.
If the housing association proves a discretionary ground then the court can only make a possession order if it's reasonable to do so.
They may suspend the order. This means you won't be evicted as long as you keep to the conditions in the order.
If the housing association proves a mandatory ground, the court has to make an outright possession order. The date for possession is usually set for 2-6 weeks after the hearing.
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
Negotiate with the housing association. If you're in rent arrears, they must try and help you resolve the problem before going to court.
Eviction action should be 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.
Get there at least 30 minutes early. Ask if there's a court duty scheme. A housing adviser may be able to speak to the judge for you if you don't already have a legal representative.
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 make a possession order if your housing association proves a mandatory ground at the court hearing.
Examples of mandatory grounds include:
- Ground 8 - at least 8 weeks' rent arrears when you get the notice and at the date of the court hearing
- Ground 7A - you've been convicted of a serious offence or breached an injunction for antisocial behaviour
The court must also make a possession order if the housing association has followed the correct eviction procedure and you have a:
The court can only make a possession order if your housing association proves a discretionary ground and the court thinks it's reasonable to make an order.
Examples of discretionary grounds include:
- Ground 10 - some rent arrears when get notice and when court action starts
- Ground 11 - you have a history of paying your rent late
- Ground 12 - breach of a term in your tenancy agreement
- Ground 14 - nuisance and antisocial behaviour
The court can also make a suspended possession order. This means you won't be evicted as long as you keep to the conditions in the order.
For example, the conditions might be to pay your full rent plus a set amount off the arrears each week until they are cleared.
Last updated 24 May 2017 | © Shelter
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