Eviction for rent arrears: Council and housing association tenants

What to do when you get a notice

Your council or housing association will give you a written notice.

The ‘notice seeking possession’ 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 will not always lose your home. 

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

Talk to your landlord

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

You can be at risk of eviction for either.

Ask them for help if you have problems with universal credit or housing benefit.

Let them know if you're struggling financially. For example, if you are off sick, have lost your job or have deductions from your benefits

The best way to avoid eviction is to agree a plan to repay rent or service charge arrears.

Breathing Space is a scheme that can help tenants with rent arrears. It pauses the eviction process for up to 60 days while you get debt advice.

Find out if you could get breathing space

Check your notice carefully

You can see which form should be used on GOV.UK:

Most housing association tenants get an assured tenancy notice.

Most council tenants and some housing association tenants get a secure tenancy notice.

The notice could be invalid if it does not give enough notice or explain the grounds that are used. 

How much notice for rent arrears

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

How much notice you get depends on your tenancy type.

Your landlord should contact you about the arrears and try to agree a repayment plan with you before they send a notice.

Table: minimum notice periods

Assured tenantsSecure tenants
2 weeks4 weeks

Understand the grounds 

Grounds are the legal reasons for eviction.

The council or housing association could use more than one ground.

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

Ground 1 for secure tenants

Ground 1 is the rent arrears and breach of tenancy 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

Some housing associations will use all 3 grounds on the notice:

  • ground 8 - at least 2 months' rent arrears 

  • ground 10 - any amount of rent arrears

  • ground 11 - late payment of rent

Ground 8 is different from other rent arrears grounds.

The court cannot stop a ground 8 eviction if you have at least 2 months' arrears both:   

  • when you're given notice

  • at the time of the hearing

Watch out for ground 8. Try to get your arrears below 2 months before the hearing.

Ground 8 can be used for service charge arrears if your tenancy agreement says your rent includes the service charge.

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

  • anyone in your household

  • visitors to your home  

You will not 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.

Your landlord has a year to start court action

When the notice period ends the council or housing association can start court action.

If you have an assured tenancy, the year runs from when you were given the notice.

If you have a secure tenancy, the year runs from the end of the notice period.

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

Contact your council's homeless team if you're at risk of eviction.

They should give you housing advice and try to stop you becoming homeless. You can ask for help even if you're a council tenant.

Last updated: 12 June 2023

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