On 21st September courts start to deal with evictions again.
There is a backlog of cases and the eviction process takes time.
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 free advice and representation through legal aid 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 on 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
Most section 8 notices given on or after 29 August need to give 6 months.
However, your landlord can give you a shorter notice in some circumstances. For example, they can give you:
- 4 weeks’ notice if you’re in at least 6 months’ rent arrears
- 2 weeks’ notice because of antisocial behaviour
Between 26 March and 28 August the notice period was 3 months.
Before 26 March it depended on the reason for eviction. Notices for rent arrears only needed to give 2 weeks.
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.
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
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.
Find out more about the process if you have a:
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 court bailiffs can evict you from your home.
Your landlord can apply for bailiffs warrant if you:
- stay in your home past the date on an outright order
- break the conditions in a suspended order
They can use county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers (HCEOs).
The bailiffs give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.
You can only ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if the order was made on a discretionary ground.
You can't ask the court to stop the eviction at this stage if your landlord got an outright order on a mandatory ground.
Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.
Illegal eviction of assured tenants
Most landlords will follow the legal process to evict an assured tenant.
It will usually be an illegal eviction if your landlord changes the locks without getting a court order, unless you agree to leave willingly.
You give up a lifetime tenancy if you leave an assured tenancy. You won't have such strong rights if you find another private tenancy.
Last updated 04 September 2020 | © Shelter
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