Find out about the documents the court sends you if your landlord wants to evict you and how you can respond.
Get advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction from your home.
You may qualify for free legal advice or representation under legal aid.
You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:
If you live in a London borough you can also:
Have your notice and court paperwork with you when you speak to an adviser.
Why the court writes to you
The court contacts you because your landlord has started a formal legal procedure to evict you from your home.
Your landlord can ask the court for a possession order to evict you if you don't leave at the end of a correctly notified notice period.
The court normally has a hearing to decide what to do.
Documents sent by the court set out your landlord's claim and tell you when your case will be heard in court.
If you are a private tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord may decide to use a quicker route to eviction called the accelerated possession procedure. This can mean a court hearing isn't needed.
What the court sends you
The first documents the court sends are:
- a copy of your landlord's claim form and particulars of claim
- a defence form
Claim form and particulars of claim
The claim form and particulars of claim are forms that your landlord completes when they start court action against you.
The claim form says what kind of court order the landlord has asked for.
The particulars of claim sets out the details of your landlord's case. These may be set out on the claim form or be attached to it as a separate document.
You may also be sent copies of extra documents that your landlord wants the court to see. For example a full schedule of your rent payments or a statement by your housing officer about contact with you. These may be sent by your landlord or the court.
The defence form is a form for you to complete and return to the court. It allows you to:
- give the court an explanation of your situation
- provide reasons why you should be allowed to stay
- say that information from the landlord is wrong
Return the form within 14 days if you want to defend the claim. Your completed form helps the court decide whether or not to make a possession order.
Even if you don't reply during this time, you can usually explain your situation to the court at the hearing.
If you owe rent and your landlord started their claim online, you can reply online. The court explains this when it sends you the defence form.
Summons from the court
The court usually tells you on the front page of the claim form when and where the court hearing will be held. This is often referred to as a summons.
The court could send you the summons separately at a later date.
If your landlord uses the accelerated possession procedure, you won't be sent details of a court hearing.
If you send in a defence form, the court may set a date for a court hearing. The court should give you at least 21 days' notice of the hearing.
Challenge the case to evict you
Complete and return your defence form to the court within 14 days.
Use the form to explain why you disagree with any information your landlord has given about why you are being evicted, such as the amount of rent arrears.
You can also use the form to ask the court to allow you more time if the court does decide to evict you. You might want to do this if you have health problems or young children and can't easily find a new place to live.
Include evidence with your defence form. This could include copies of:
- receipts from the housing benefit department to show you have provided all the information they asked for
- award letters showing your entitlement to benefits
- letters showing you have a new job
- proof of payments into your rent account
- hospital letters about your health problems
If you don't want to stay
You don't have to go to court if you decide to leave your home before the hearing.
Before you leave you should:
- make sure you have somewhere else to live
- tell your landlord when you'll be leaving and return your keys when you go
Try to get written confirmation of your tenancy end date from the landlord or agent to avoid disputes about ongoing rent liability.
Find out more about ending a:
Next steps: court hearing
Find out more about court possession hearings.
Brenda's Story: 'The court process was not as bad as I thought'
Brenda, a lawyer and lecturer, lives with her two daughters and granddaughter in Manchester. The family rented a cottage but she was given an eviction notice after asking for repairs. She went to court to challenge the eviction notice.
Last updated 26 Apr 2017 | © Shelter
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