Can private tenants stop the bailiffs

Private tenant evictions by bailiffs are hard to stop, but you can ask the court to stop or delay an eviction in some situations.

No evictions by bailiffs will take place between 17 November and 11 January except in very limited circumstances.

Evictions can go ahead where the court has made an order because:

  • there was antisocial behaviour
  • you owed more than 9 months' rent before 23 March 2020

The courts will continue to process cases during lockdown. You still need to read any letters from the court and attend the hearing if there is one.

When the court can't stop eviction by bailiffs

The court can't stop eviction by bailiffs if your landlord got a court order to evict you for any of these reasons:

Section 21 eviction

The court can't stop the bailiffs if all of these apply:

Ground 8 rent arrears

The court can't stop the bailiffs if your landlord got a court order using ground 8 for rent arrears.

You can be evicted on ground 8 if you owe at least 8 weeks' or 2 months' rent at the time your landlord gives you written notice and at the time of the court hearing.

Ground 8 for rent arrears is a mandatory ground for possession (reason for eviction).

Other mandatory grounds for eviction

The court can't stop the bailiffs if you are being evicted on mandatory grounds.

Other mandatory grounds can include if your:

  • landlord wants the property as their main residence
  • landlord's mortgage lender has served notice to repossess the property
  • landlord wants to redevelop the property

Contact a Shelter adviser if you are not sure which ground your landlord has used

When the court can stop eviction by bailiffs

A court can stop eviction of private tenants by bailiffs only in limited situations.

These situations can include:

If you got a Section 21 notice but there was no court hearing

The court may cancel (set aside) a possession order because your landlord:

Accelerated possession proceedings have no court hearing.

You will need to demonstrate that you could have challenged the validity of the section 21 notice if there had been a court hearing.

If you couldn't attend the original court hearing

The court can sometimes cancel a possession order if you couldn't attend the court hearing where the order was made.

You can apply for the court decision to be set aside (cancelled) if you:

  • had a good reason for missing the court hearing
  • applied to have the order set aside as soon as you found out the court had made the possession order
  • would have had a good chance of persuading the court not to make the possession order if you had been there

Apply to set aside a decision

If suspending the bailiffs' warrant is reasonable

The court can suspend the bailiffs' warrant if it decides it is reasonable to do so.

The courts can only do this if you are being evicted on a discretionary ground.

Examples could include if your landlord took you to court because of:

  • rent arrears
  • damage to the property.

This is more likely to apply if you are:

There is usually a short hearing if the court decides to consider your application. This could be the same day that you apply.

Apply to suspend the bailiffs' warrant

If your landlord agrees to stop the bailiffs

If you've persuaded your landlord to let you stay in your home, you'll need to:

  • ask the landlord to withdraw their application for the bailiffs
  • ask your landlord to give you any agreement made in writing
  • attend the court if a hearing has already been arranged

Never assume the bailiffs won't come just because your landlord says you can stay.

Check with the court that the bailiffs' visit is cancelled.

Apply to the courts to stop the bailiffs if the bailiffs' visit hasn't been cancelled.

Need more help?

If the court can't stop the eviction:

  • you will need to get your belongings back
  • find out if your council can help you with housing

Last updated 18 November 2020 | © Shelter

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