Council and housing association tenants: eviction for antisocial behaviour

Coronavirus update

Most evictions are paused until after 31 May but an eviction can still take place if your landlord has proved either:

  • antisocial behaviour

  • at least 6 months' rent arrears

The courts will continue to deal with cases during this time.

Get legal advice if you get any letters about eviction. 

Antisocial behaviour in or around your home

Antisocial behaviour includes things like:

  • racist or homophobic abuse

  • causing a nuisance to your neighbours

  • threatening your landlord's staff or contractors

  • using your home for illegal purposes, such as drug dealing

  • a criminal conviction for a serious offence

  • breaching a criminal behaviour order

You could face eviction for antisocial behaviour caused by you, a household member or visitors to your home.

Complaints about your behaviour

Eviction should be a last resort.

Your council or housing association should:

  • discuss any complaints with you

  • give you a chance to stop the behaviour

  • offer mediation or tenancy support if this would help

What to do

You may be able to stop the eviction process going any further if you accept any support offered or agree to mediation.

You can ask to be referred to a community mental health team or drug and alcohol service if you think these issues are affecting your behaviour.

The eviction process

The courts are now dealing with evictions again after a pause due to coronavirus.

Cases involving antisocial behaviour will be dealt with sooner than other cases.

The 3 stages to the process are:

  1. Notice

  2. Court action

  3. Bailiffs

What to do

Look out for important letters from your landlord or the court.

Get free legal advice as early in the process as you can.

1. Notice

Most council and housing association tenants have secure or assured tenancies.

You get a 'notice seeking possession' if you have one of these tenancy types.

Read your notice carefully to understand:

  • the reasons for eviction

  • how soon court action could start

What to do

Contact your landlord if you disagree with any of the information in the notice, or if you need support or want to resolve things.

Get free legal advice on your next steps.

Read this information instead if you have a:

You get a different notice and can be evicted more easily with these types of tenancy.

Reasons for eviction

The legal reasons for eviction are called 'grounds for possession' on the notice.

The grounds are numbered. There are different grounds for secure and assured tenants.

Your landlord must prove a ground at a court hearing to get an eviction order.

How soon court action could start

Your notice contains a date after which your landlord can start court action.

The notice periods for antisocial behaviour depend on:

  • the grounds used

  • your tenancy type

  • when you were given notice

Between 26 March and 28 August 2020 you were entitled to at least 3 months' notice because of the coronavirus outbreak.

These tables show minimum notice periods from 29 August 2020, or before 26 March.

Assured tenancyMinimum notice period
Ground 14None - court action can start as soon as you're given notice
Grounds 14A or 14ZA2 weeks
Ground 7A4 weeks - periodic tenancies
1 month - fixed term tenancies
Secure tenancyMinimum notice period
Ground 2None - court action can start as soon as you're given notice
Grounds 2A or 2ZA4 weeks
Section 84A notice4 weeks - periodic tenancies
1 month - fixed term tenancies

How long the notice is valid for

The notice remains valid for 12 months so your landlord may still be able to apply to court even though the process has been on hold for several months.

2. Court action starts

Your landlord can apply for a possession order once the notice period has ended.

You will get several letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.

This table shows the main documents you should get before a court hearing.

Letters receivedWhat this means
Claim and defence formsYour landlord has applied for a possession order.
Reactivation noticeYour landlord has applied to restart the court process.
Notice of reviewThe court has scheduled a review date for your case
Notice of possession hearingThe court has arranged a hearing for you to attend.

Claim and defence forms

Read the claim form carefully. Look for any mistakes or anything you disagree with.

Get legal help to complete and return the defence form within 2 weeks.

Reactivation notice

You will get a reactivation notice if your housing association or council applied for a possession order before 3 August 2020 and now wants to restart the process.

They must provide further information if they believe the court should prioritise your case for a review. For example, because of significant antisocial behaviour or very high rent arrears.

Get legal advice if you get a reactivation notice.

The review date

You will get a notice of review from the court at least 3 weeks before the review date.

You don't need to attend court on the review date.

At the review, a judge could:

  • set a date for a hearing - usually 4 weeks after the review

  • dismiss the claim - if there's been a procedural mistake by your landlord

  • give directions - to give you or your landlord more time to do something

The court hearing

A hearing will usually be at your local county court 4 weeks after the review date.

You will get a notice of possession hearing which tells you:

  • the time and date

  • how to get free legal help on the day from a court duty adviser

You should always attend or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you can't. For example, sudden or serious ill health.

Follow any guidance from the court on coronavirus safety measures.

What to do

Get free legal help before the review date or hearing.

Go to the hearing even if you haven't returned the defence form, or don't have a legal adviser with you.

You should be able to speak to a court duty adviser on the day if needed.

When the court could allow you to stay

The court could make a suspended possession order if the council or housing association proves a 'discretionary ground'.

A suspended order means you can stay in your home as long as you keep to the conditions in the order.

Common discretionary grounds are:

  • grounds 1 and 2 - secure tenants

  • grounds 10, 11 and 14 - assured housing association tenants

The court will probably order eviction if the antisocial behaviour is very serious and ongoing, or if a criminal offence has been committed.

What the court looks at

With a discretionary ground, the court looks at the effect of the behaviour on your neighbours and employees of the council or housing association.

You may be able to keep your home if you can show that the behaviour has already stopped or will stop immediately.

For example, if the behaviour was caused by:

  • mental health or drug and alcohol problems - and you now get support

  • someone else in your home - and you can show they no longer live there or visit

If your landlord also uses a rent arrears ground, the court will look at the level of arrears and if you have come to a repayment agreement.

When the court must order eviction for antisocial behaviour

The court must make an outright possession order if the council or housing association prove a 'mandatory antisocial behaviour ground'.

The order sets a date for you to leave your home.

Your landlord is using a mandatory antisocial behaviour ground if your notice:

  • lists Ground 7A and you have an assured tenancy

  • states the court will be asked to make an order under section 84A and you have a secure tenancy

These grounds can only be used in specific situations. For example, if you've been convicted of certain offences in the local area.

When the court must order eviction for rent arrears

If you're an assured tenant, your housing association might use ground 8 for serious rent arrears.

The court must make an outright possession order if you have at least 8 weeks' arrears both:

  • when you're given notice

  • at the time of the hearing

Try to get your arrears below 8 weeks by the time of the hearing.

Your case is likely to be dealt with sooner by the courts if you're also facing eviction for antisocial behaviour.

3. Eviction by bailiffs

The council or housing association can ask bailiffs to evict you if you:

  • break the conditions in a suspended order

  • stay in your home past the date in an outright order

They must apply for an eviction warrant.

The bailiffs give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

What to do

If the eviction order was made on a discretionary ground you could still ask the court to stop the eviction at this late stage.

Get legal advice before you apply. The court might not be willing to stop the eviction if there is ongoing evidence of antisocial behaviour.

Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.

Help from the council after eviction

Ask the council for help if you will be homeless following an eviction.

You can do this even if you're being evicted from a council tenancy.

The council may decide you're intentionally homeless. But this doesn't mean they don't have to help at all.

You may qualify for emergency housing if you have children, are pregnant or have another priority need.

You're also entitled to a personal housing plan to help you find a new home.

Last updated: 10 March 2021

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