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Eviction of council and housing association tenants

Most council or housing association tenants have secure or assured tenancies.

You have strong rights with these types of tenancy.

You can only be evicted if your landlord can prove a legal reason for eviction in court.

Sometimes the court can stop or delay an eviction.

New tenants can sometimes be evicted more easily. Read this advice instead if you have an:

The eviction process

There are 4 stages:

  1. You get a notice from your landlord

  2. Court action starts - also called 'possession proceedings'

  3. A court hearing takes place

  4. Bailiffs can carry out an eviction if the court orders this

You will not always be evicted. The process takes time and there are things you can do at each stage to try and keep your home. 

Contact your council’s homeless team for help if you are at risk of eviction, even if you’re a council tenant. They should give you housing advice and could give you practical support.

1. Notice from your landlord

Your council or housing association send you a 'notice seeking possession'.

It sets out the earliest date court action can start.

How much notice you're entitled to depends on:

  • the reasons for eviction

  • when you received the notice

  • whether you rent from a housing association or a council

Rent arrears is the most common reason for eviction but you will not always lose your home.

Find out what to do at each stage of the process.

You're usually entitled to at least:

  • 4 weeks' notice if you have a secure tenancy

  • 2 weeks' notice if you have an assured tenancy

You're entitled to at least 2 months' notice if a housing association wants you to leave for a reason that is not your fault. For example, redevelopment or demolition.

There is no minimum notice period for some antisocial behaviour cases.

Use our notice periods checker to find out how much notice your landlord has to give you.

You do not have to leave by the date on the landlord's notice. Your landlord has to ask the court to end your tenancy if you stay.

The notice is valid for a year

Your council or housing association must start court action within a year, or the notice will expire and can no longer be used.

With a housing association assured tenancy, the year runs from when you receive the notice.

With a secure tenancy, the year runs from when court action can start.

What to do: contact your council or housing association

Try to come to an agreement to stop things going any further.

Councils and housing associations should only use eviction as a last resort.

They should delay court action if they know you're trying to sort things out, especially if you're facing unemployment or other difficulties.

You may be able to sort out a repayment plan for rent arrears or agree to mediation if there have been complaints of antisocial behaviour.

2. Court action starts

Your housing association or council can start court action once the date in your notice has passed.

You will receive the following documents from the court:

You will usually get the time and date of the hearing at this stage.

What to do: read the court paperwork carefully 

Contact your council or housing association if you disagree with any of the information.

You can explain your situation and why a possession order should not be made. For example, if you can pay your rent and repay your arrears in instalments.

Get legal help to complete and return the defence form within 14 days.

3. The court hearing

The court will usually arrange the hearing when they send out the court documents.

Check the paperwork to find out:

  • when and where it will take place

  • how to get free legal help on the day

The hearing will usually be held at your local county court. Some hearings are being held online or by phone. This should only happen if you agree to this.

You should always attend or let the court know if there's a very good reason why you cannot. For example, sudden and serious ill health.

What to do: always go to the hearing

You can attend even if you did not return your defence form.

A court duty adviser can give you free legal help on the day.

You should still get legal advice before the hearing if you can.

Find out what happens at a possession hearing.

Find out what it means if the court makes a:

4. Eviction by bailiffs

The council or housing association can apply for an eviction warrant if you:

  • break the conditions in a suspended order

  • stay past the possession date in an outright order

The bailiffs must give you at least 2 weeks' notice of the eviction date.

What to do: check if the court can stop the bailiffs   

You must act fast. Get legal advice.

Find out if you can stop an eviction for rent arrears.

Last updated: 16 November 2022

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