Eviction for rent arrears

Your landlord must take certain steps before they can evict you for rent arrears. Find out about the legal process and what you can do before and after eviction. 

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 give you notice and get a court order to evict you for rent arrears. 

There will be a court hearing unless the landlord uses the accelerated possession procedure.

You can attend the hearing and ask the court to stop or delay an eviction if you're a:

If you're a private assured shorthold tenant, the court can only stop an eviction if your landlord gave you an invalid section 21 notice or applied to the court too late.   

An outright possession order contains a date for possession. Your landlord can apply for bailiffs to evict you if you stay past this date.

If you live with your landlord

Your landlord must give you reasonable notice to leave if you're a lodger

Your landlord does not have to get a court order once your notice or contract has ended. They can't forcibly evict you but they could change the locks while you're out.

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.

How to find a new home 

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

Private landlords and letting agents usually ask for a reference from your most recent landlord.

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.   

You won't qualify for longer-term housing if the council decides you're intentionally homeless because of rent arrears or because you left too early.

The council might exclude you from the housing register or give you less priority.   

Get advice if you have problems finding a new home after eviction. 

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre

Still need help?

Get advice if you're threatened with eviction or homelessness because of rent arrears.

If you're on a low income, check if you qualify for legal aid.

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345

Or contact Shelter and speak to one of our expert advisers:

Call our emergency helpline if you're threatened with eviction

Last updated 27 Jul 2017 | © Shelter

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

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Please contact #########

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.