Eviction of assured tenants

Coronavirus update:

You're now entitled to 3 months’ notice. This won’t apply if you got your notice before 26 March 2020.

But all court action for eviction has been suspended until the end of June, so your landlord can't take things further at the moment.

Check if you're an assured tenant

You probably have an assured tenancy if you rent from a housing association or private landlord and any of the following apply:

  • you received written notice from your landlord that it's an assured tenancy
  • you moved to a tenancy with the same landlord, but were an assured tenant immediately before your current tenancy began
  • your original tenancy started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord didn't give you a written agreement or notice that it was an assured shorthold tenancy

Many private tenants and some housing association tenants are assured shorthold tenants.

Get advice if you are facing eviction

It is possible to challenge eviction from an assured tenancy. The court may have an option not to evict you.

Get advice as soon as you can.

You may qualify for legal aid (free advice and representation) if you're on a low income. If you don't qualify, there are options for free legal support

It helps if you have documents such as the notice from your landlord and any court papers with you when you ask for legal help.

Section 8 notices

Your landlord must give you a written notice, often called a section 8 notice, if they want you to leave.

The notice must:

  • be in a special form
  • include the reasons that your landlord is seeking possession
  • state the earliest date your landlord can start court action

Your landlord can start court action as soon as the notice expires.

The notice is valid for 12 months. Your landlord has to give you a new notice if they don't start court action within this time.

How much notice

How much notice you get depends on the reasons your landlord is seeking possession.

You get 2 months' notice if the landlord wants the property back for a reason that's not your fault. For example, demolition, reconstruction or redevelopment of the property.

You usually get 2 weeks' notice if you're in rent arrears or break terms of your tenancy agreement.

You get 4 weeks' notice if the landlord uses a mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour. If they use a discretionary ground for antisocial behaviour they can start court action straight away.

Reasons for eviction

The legal reasons that a landlord can give to end an assured tenancy are called grounds for eviction.

There are mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds. Check your notice to see which grounds your landlord is using. They can use more than 1 ground.

Mandatory grounds

The court must order you to leave your home if your landlord proves a mandatory ground at a court hearing.

Examples of mandatory grounds include:

  • Ground 8 - at least 8 weeks' rent arrears when you get the notice and at the date of the court hearing
  • Ground 7A - you've been convicted of a serious offence or breached an injunction for antisocial behaviour

Discretionary grounds

The court can only order you to leave your home if your landlord proves a discretionary ground and the court thinks it's reasonable to make an order.

Examples of discretionary grounds include:

  • Ground 10 - some rent arrears when you get notice and when court action starts
  • Ground 11 - you have a history of paying your rent late
  • Ground 12 - breach of a term of your tenancy agreement
  • Ground 14 - nuisance and antisocial behaviour

Court action by your landlord

Your landlord can apply to the county court for a possession order if you have been given a correct notice and the notice period has ended.

The court sends you important documents telling you the date of the court hearing and your landlord's eviction claim.

You can send the court information on the defence form to help the judge decide whether to make a possession order.

You should also go to the court hearing to give yourself the best chance of keeping your home.

Suspended possession orders

The court can make a suspended possession order if your landlord proves a discretionary ground and the court thinks it's reasonable to make an order.

The court attaches conditions to a suspended possession order. For example, the conditions might be to pay your full rent plus a set amount off the arrears each week until they are cleared.

You can't normally be evicted as long as you keep to the conditions in the order.

If you breach the conditions, your landlord can apply for bailiffs to evict you.

Outright possession orders

The court must make an outright possession order if your landlord can prove a mandatory ground.

The court can also make an outright possession order if:

  • your landlord proves a discretionary ground
  • the court thinks it's reasonable to order possession and decides not to suspend the order

The date for possession is usually set for 2 weeks after the hearing.

You can ask for the date for possession to be up to 6 weeks after the hearing if it would cause you hardship to leave earlier.

Your landlord can apply for bailiffs to evict you if you stay past the date on the order.

It may be possible to get the order changed if the court makes an outright order on a discretionary ground

Eviction by bailiffs

Only bailiffs or high court enforcement officers can legally evict you from your home.

Your landlord can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you if you:

  • stay past the date on an outright possession order
  • break the terms of a suspended possession order

If you break the terms of a suspended possession order, you might still be able to prevent the eviction by asking the court to suspend a bailiff's warrant.

Illegal eviction of assured tenants

It will be an illegal eviction if your landlord evicts you without getting a court order.

The council might be able to help stop the illegal eviction

Last updated 26 Sep 2019 | © Shelter

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