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:
- you are an assured shorthold tenant
- your landlord gave you a valid section 21 notice
- there was a court hearing to decide if you should be evicted
- your landlord got a court order setting a date for you to leave
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:
- served an invalid section 21 notice and
- applied to the court to use accelerated possession proceedings
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
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.
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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