What happens when bailiffs evict tenants

Your landlord can ask a court to send bailiffs to evict you from your home. It's the bailiffs' job to hand the vacant property back to your landlord.

Eviction step 3 - bailiffs

Who can evict tenants?

Only bailiffs authorised by a court can evict you.

Bailiffs who evict people are usually employees of your local county court. Sometimes they are private bailiffs authorised by the High Court.

The bailiff's job is to hand the property back to your landlord. They will make sure you and anyone else living there leave.

Don't delay if you want to challenge an eviction by bailiffs.

Notice that bailiffs are coming

County court bailiffs should write to tell you when they will evict you. They post or hand deliver a Notice of Eviction (Form N54). This contains their contact details.

Private bailiffs authorised by the High Court can arrive to evict you without giving you any notice. You will get some warning that this might happen because your landlord must give you some notice that they're applying to the High Court to use private bailiffs.

What happens when the bailiffs evict you

Bailiffs usually come between 9am and 5pm. Ask to see their identification, for example a badge, ID card or enforcement agent certificate. Bailiffs must have this with them.

They will ask you to leave if you are still at home. Give them your keys and go. Bailiffs may wait a short time while you move out, for example because you have children or are disabled, but they don't have to.

Bailiffs must not use physical violence or offensive language.

The police don't usually come to an eviction. If you don't leave voluntarily, the bailiffs are likely to call the police. The landlord or the bailiff may ask them to attend if there is a risk of violence or to prevent a breach of the peace. You can be arrested for breach of the peace.

What happens to your belongings

On the day of eviction, bailiffs will ask you to remove all your belongings that are still in the property. Try to pack or remove most of your belongings before the eviction date. This will make things easier on the day. Bailiffs don't have to give you extra time to pack your things.

They can pick up your belongings and put them outside or lock them inside the property. You will then have to arrange a time with your landlord to go back and pick them up.

Bailiffs must not damage your belongings. The bailiffs should not take anything of yours to pay for their costs or to cover any rent arrears, unless the court gives them a separate court order to do this.

Your landlord must keep your belongings safe for a reasonable time if any are left behind. You could be charged for storage, removal and disposal if you don't collect them. Usually it is illegal for your landlord to destroy or sell your belongings.

The council must help with storage if you make a homeless application and you:

The council will usually charge for storage.

Homeless after eviction

Some people qualify for emergency or longer-term housing from the council if they're homeless after an eviction. 

You should apply as homeless as soon as you know there's a risk you'll be homeless to find out what help you can expect. You don't need to wait until the eviction date.

Ask the council for help if you're facing homelessness

Leaving before the bailiffs come

You don't have to wait for the bailiffs to arrive if you've arranged somewhere else to stay. Make sure that you return your keys to the landlord or letting agent if you leave before the eviction.   

If the council says you must wait for the eviction before they can offer you any help with housing it's usually best to follow their instructions. If you leave before you need to, the council could decide you're intentionally homeless.

Moving back in after eviction

A locksmith will change the locks when the bailiffs arrive. You can be charged with criminal damage if you try to get back in.

If you move back in without the landlord's permission, you'll be a trespasser.

Last updated 16 Jan 2019 | © Shelter

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