Eviction for rent arrears: Council and housing association tenants

What to do with letters from the court

Letters from the court mean your council or housing association have applied to court for a possession order.

They can do this once the date in your notice has passed.

It does not mean you will definitely lose your home but you need to take action now.

Get legal help with the court process and paperwork.

Keep talking to your landlord

Councils and housing associations should be supportive and compassionate if you're in financial hardship. Eviction should be a last resort.

Tell your landlord if you're struggling with rent payments. For example, if you've lost your job or are on reduced hours.

Let them know if there's a reason you cannot currently pay your full rent. For example, if you're waiting for a benefit or redundancy payment.

You can still avoid court action and eviction if you agree a repayment plan with your council or housing association.

Documents you should get before a hearing

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

The N5 claim form and the N119 'particulars of claim' should give full details about:  

  • why your council or housing association are taking you to court

  • what they are asking the court to do – for example, order you to leave the property and pay the arrears

You’ll also get letters and a rent statement from your council or housing association that says how much rent they think you owe.

Read through all the paperwork carefully. Look for anything you disagree with, for example the amount of rent arrears. You can mention this on the defence form.

Fill in the defence form

The N11R defence form is your first chance to tell the court why you should not be evicted. You’ll still have the opportunity to say this at the court hearing.

The form asks you to provide information about your income, expenses and debts. Try and be as accurate as you can.

Key questions on the defence form

Answer all the questions on the form. Here are some key ones to look out for.

Question 4 – If you disagree with the amount of rent arrears on the claim form, tick no. Write how much rent you think you owe, if any.

Question 6 - You may have a counterclaim if your landlord has failed to carry out repairs or your home is in such poor condition that it's unfit to live in. If a counterclaim is successful you get money back from your landlord which can offset your rent arrears. Speak to an adviser about this question if you think you may have a claim.

Questions 7 to 10 – Write down what you can afford to pay even if you have not agreed a repayment plan with your council or housing association. Make sure the information you provide about your income and expenses shows that you can afford that amount.

Question 29 – This question is important if you’re a secure tenant or your housing association is using grounds 10 or 11. This is where you can say why it would not be reasonable for the court to make a possession order. Make sure you include:

  • any special reason why you are in arrears – for example, illness or benefit problems

  • any reason why being evicted would cause you hardship - for example someone in the household with a disability

Continue on a separate piece of paper if you need to. Keep it brief and stick to the facts.

Return the defence form to the court within 2 weeks

You should send the completed form back to court within 2 weeks.

If you miss this deadline you can still send the form back.

Get legal help to complete the defence form

Last updated: 10 December 2023

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