Eviction for rent arrears

No evictions by bailiffs will take place between 17 November and 11 January except in very limited circumstances.

Evictions can go ahead where the court has made an order because:

  • there was antisocial behaviour
  • you owed more than 9 months' rent before 23 March 2020

The courts will continue to process cases during lockdown. You still need to read any letters from the court and attend the hearing if there is one.

What to do if you're in rent arrears

Eviction is a legal process. It takes time and many landlords only use it as a last resort.

Contact your landlord if you have problems paying your rent.

You might be able to sort things out.

Steps your landlord must take to evict

Your landlord must usually give you notice and get a court order if you're:

If you live with your landlord, they can give you reasonable notice to leave. They don't need to get a court order. They can't forcibly evict you but could change the locks once your notice or contract has ended.

If you leave because of rent arrears

You might decide to leave your tenancy because you can't afford the rent.

Things to consider before leaving include:

  • if you'll need to apply as homeless
  • whether you can find anything more affordable
  • the extra costs you'll have to pay if the landlord goes to court

Don't feel pressured into leaving early, especially if you have nowhere else to go. It usually takes a few months for the eviction process to go through court.

Ending your tenancy

If you decide to leave, you must end your tenancy properly or your rent arrears will continue to grow until the property is re-let.

Your landlord might agree that you can end your tenancy immediately or at short notice. Get any agreement in writing to avoid disputes later on.

If you have a rolling (periodic) tenancy, you must give at least 4 weeks' notice unless your landlord agrees to a shorter notice period.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy, you'll need to negotiate an early end to the tenancy or check your contract for a break clause.

Finding a new home

It can be difficult to find somewhere new to live if you're evicted or owe rent at a previous address.

Renting privately

Most private landlords and letting agents ask for a reference from your previous landlord.

Help from the council

You can ask the council for help if you're homeless or at risk of losing your home. You don't have to wait until you're evicted.

The council must:

The council might decide you're intentionally homeless if you left your previous tenancy before you had to or if the rent arrears were your fault.

The council might exclude you or give you less priority on the housing register if you have rent arrears, especially if you owe money to a council or housing association.

It can help to come to an agreement to repay the arrears in instalments.

Still need help?

Get legal advice if you're facing eviction or homelessness because of rent arrears.


Last updated 18 November 2020 | © Shelter

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