Council and housing association tenants: eviction for rent arrears

What to do when you get a notice

Your council or housing association will give you a written notice if they want to evict you for rent arrears.

The ‘notice seeking possession’ lists the 'grounds for possession'. It tells you:

  • why your landlord wants to evict you

  • the earliest date they can apply to court

The notice is the start of a legal process and you won't always lose your home. 

Get free legal advice as soon as you can.

Explain your situation

Tell your council or housing association why you’re in arrears.

Ask them for help if you're having problems with housing benefit or universal credit.

Let them know if you're struggling financially, especially if this is due to coronavirus. For example, if you've lost your job or been furloughed. 

Make a plan to repay arrears

The best way to avoid eviction is to agree a way to repay your arrears.

Make sure you can afford any repayment plan. Look at options to increase your income and reduce your expenditure.

Your council or housing association shouldn’t apply to court if you can keep to an agreed repayment plan.

Check your notice carefully

You can see on GOV.UK what a notice should look like for:

The notice could be invalid if it doesn't include a date or give you enough notice. 

Look for other serious mistakes that could make the notice invalid.

How much notice for rent arrears

The notice sets out the earliest date court action can start. 

The rules have changed twice during the coronavirus outbreak.

How much notice you get can depend on:

  • the amount of rent arrears

  • when you received the notice

  • whether you rent from a housing association or council

You can be given shorter notice if you're facing eviction for other reasons, such as antisocial behaviour.

This table sets out the minimum notice periods if your council or housing association want to evict you because of rent arrears only.

When you were given noticeMinimum notice periodTenancy type
On or after 29 August 20206 months - if less than 6 months' arrears 4 weeks - if 6 months' arrears or moreAll secure and assured tenancies
Between 26 March and 28 August 20203 monthsAll secure and assured tenancies
Before 26 March 20202 weeksAssured housing association tenancies
Before 26 March 20204 weeksSecure council and housing association tenancies

When the notice period ends

Your council or housing association can apply to court once the notice period ends.

You'll receive paperwork from the court once they do this.

They might not apply immediately, especially if you're in contact with them and trying to sort things out.

When the notice expires

The notice expires 12 months from:

  • the end of the notice period if you're a secure tenant

  • when you're given notice if you're an assured tenant

The council or housing association have to give you a new notice if they don't start court action within this timescale but still want to evict you.

Understand the grounds 

Grounds are the legal reasons for eviction.

The council or housing association may be able to use more than one ground.

The grounds are numbered. There are different grounds depending on whether you have a secure or assured tenancy.

Grounds for secure tenants

Ground 1 is the rent arrears ground.

Your landlord should postpone court action if you can pay your usual rent and reduce your arrears in agreed instalments.

Grounds for assured housing association tenants

There are 3 rent arrears grounds for assured tenants:

  • ground 8 - at least 2 months' rent arrears 

  • ground 10 - any amount of rent arrears

  • ground 11 - late payment of rent

Some housing associations will use all 3 grounds.

Watch out for ground 8. It's different from other rent arrears grounds because the court can't usually stop an eviction if you have at least 2 months' arrears both:   

  • when you're given notice

  • at the time of the hearing

You have a better chance of keeping your home if you can reduce your arrears below 2 months before the hearing takes place.

Antisocial behaviour grounds

The council or housing association may use an antisocial behaviour ground if they think there has been nuisance, antisocial or criminal behaviour caused by:

  • you or someone in your household

  • a visitor to your home  

You won't be entitled to the usual notice period and they can apply to court immediately in some cases. This applies even if you clear the rent arrears.

Find out more about eviction for antisocial behaviour.

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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

Get help