Council and housing association tenants: eviction for rent arrears

How to suspend an eviction warrant

No evictions by bailiffs will take place until after 21 February except in very limited circumstances.

Evictions may still go ahead if the landlord has proved either:

  • antisocial behaviour

  • at least 6 months' rent arrears

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.

Ask the court to stop the bailiffs

You can ask the court to stop the bailiffs if you have an eviction date. 

There are 2 steps to this process:

  1. Complete Form N244 and return it to the court

  2. Attend a short hearing where the judge makes a decision

It costs £14 to apply unless you qualify for help with court fees.

You can't use this process if your possession order was made on Ground 8. You can still ask your housing association to cancel the eviction if you can agree a repayment plan for your rent arrears. 

Complete the N244 form

Form N244 is available on GOV.UK and from the court.

You can either:

  • complete it online and print it out

  • fill in a paper form at the court

What to write

In the top box in the right hand corner fill in the name of the court, the claim number and the warrant number. You can find these details on the bailiffs' notice of eviction.

Question 1 - Write your full name

Question 2 - Tick defendant

Question 3 - Write 'I ask the court to suspend the warrant for possession due to be executed on [date of eviction]. I can meet my contractual rent payments and offer [insert repayment proposal] each week towards the arrears.'

Question 4 - Tick no

Question 5 - Tick at a hearing

Question 6 - Write 0 hours 10 minutes and tick no

Question 7 - Leave blank

Question 8 - Write district judge

Question 9 - Write claimant

Question 9a - Leave blank

Question 10 - Tick evidence set out in the box below and provide details

Sign and date the Statement of Truth

Include evidence

You must be able to show that you will pay your full rent and pay off the arrears in instalments. Include evidence of your income, spending and other debts.

Set out:

  • why you have rent arrears  

  • what you've done to sort this out 

  • reasons why you broke the terms of an agreed repayment plan or suspended order - for example, an unexpected underpayment of benefits or wages

The evidence box on the form is very small. You can continue on a separate piece of paper. Keep it brief and factual. Use short sentences and numbered paragraphs.

Return the form to the court

It's best to return the form at least 3 days before the eviction date. 

Tell your council or housing association that you've applied to suspend the warrant.

The court will give you an appointment for an 'application hearing'. The hearing could be on the same day especially if the bailiffs are due in the next few days. 

It's possible to apply to suspend a warrant even on the day of the eviction but it's very risky to leave it this late. Phone the bailiffs first thing and tell them you've applied. If you don't, the eviction could happen while you're at court.

Attend the application hearing

The hearing usually lasts about 10 minutes.

You should attend in person unless everyone has agreed to a remote hearing by phone or video.

If you don't attend, your application will be dismissed and the eviction can go ahead.

At the hearing, the judge will either:

What to take to the hearing

Take any evidence that shows you can pay your full rent and reduce your arrears.

For example:

  • letters about benefits

  • a job offer from an employer

  • bank statements showing recent payments  

You're expected to pay a reasonable regular payment that you can afford. The court can set arrears repayments as low as £3.70 a week if you're not working or on a very low income.

If the court suspends the warrant 

The eviction will be cancelled and you can stay in your home.

You must pay your rent and reduce your arrears on the terms set by the court.

If you break the terms of a suspended warrant at a later date, your council or housing association can ask the bailiffs to evict you.

It's possible to ask a court to suspend a warrant more than once. But the more times you break the terms of a warrant, the less likely it is that a judge will accept that it's reasonable for you to stay in your home.

Last updated: 7 January 2021

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help