Eviction for rent arrears: Council and housing association tenants

Possession orders for rent arrears

The court looks at the documents and the evidence before making a decision. 

There are 2 types of order the court can make:

  • outright possession order

  • suspended possession order

An outright order sets a date for you to leave your home.

A suspended order lets you stay in your home if you keep to conditions.

The court could also delay or dismiss the case.

The court must make an outright order if your housing association uses ground 8 and you still owe more than 2 months' rent at the hearing.

Reduce your arrears below this level if you can.

Outright possession orders

The court is likely to make an outright order if you do not:

  • attend the hearing

  • contact your landlord or the court

  • pay your rent or agree a repayment plan for the arrears

An outright order sets a date for possession. It's not the same as an eviction date.

Your landlord can apply for bailiffs to evict you if you do not leave by the date on the order.

It may still be possible to stop the eviction.

Get free legal advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction.

Suspended possession orders

A suspended possession order means you can stay in your home as long as you pay your rent and make regular repayments towards the arrears.

The order says:

  • how much you need to pay

  • when you need to pay

For example, the court could tell you to pay £4.25 a week on top of your normal rent if you're on benefits or a low income.

Note down what you need to pay on the day of the hearing.

You have to start paying the arrears back straight away but you might not get a copy of the order for a few weeks.

If you cannot keep up with repaying arrears

Your landlord could apply for bailiffs to evict you if you do not follow the instructions in the suspended possession order.

You could ask the court to change the conditions in a suspended order.

Speak to your landlord immediately if you're worried you'll miss or be late with a payment.

When the court can delay your case

The court could delay a final decision. You can sometimes ask for this.

A delay is also called an adjournment. 

Adjournments for more time

The court may delay your case to give you more time to do something.

For example, you can ask for an adjournment if you:

  • need more time to get legal advice

  • need support from a benefits or debt adviser

  • are waiting for a benefits claim to come through

With ground 8 you can only ask for an adjournment before any evidence is heard.

The court cannot delay the case if your housing association has presented their evidence.

Adjournments on terms

The court can also delay your case on the condition that you pay your rent and make regular repayments towards the arrears. 

The court might do this instead of making a suspended possession order if you only owe a small amount of rent.

If you miss or are late with a payment, your council or housing association could ask the court for a possession order.

When the court can dismiss your case

The court could dismiss your case if your landlord does not:

  • follow the correct legal process

  • prove a ground for possession

You can stay in your home if the court dismisses your case.

Your council or housing association would normally have to give you a new notice and follow the possession process again if they still want to evict you.

Last updated: 2 July 2023

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