Eviction of council and housing association tenants

The eviction ban ends on 1 June.

Councils and housing associations should only evict tenants as a last resort.

The process takes time. There are things you can do at each stage to try and keep your home.

Your landlord needs a reason to evict you

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

With these tenancies, you can only be evicted if your landlord has a legal reason, and can prove it in court.

A legal reason for eviction is called a 'ground for possession'.

Sometimes the court can stop or delay an eviction.

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

Some common reasons for eviction

Rent arrears is the most common reason for eviction followed by antisocial behaviour.

Our guide to eviction for rent arrears explains what you can do at each stage to try and keep your home.

Find out more about what counts as antisocial behaviour and what to do if your landlord start the eviction process.

If the original tenant has died

If you live with a council or housing association tenant who dies, you may have the right to inherit their tenancy. This is called having 'succession rights'.

Even if you can't inherit the tenancy, the council or housing association will need to apply to court if they want you to leave.

Find out more about:

The eviction process

The 5 stages to the process are:

  1. You get a notice from your landlord

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

  3. There's a review of your case

  4. A court hearing takes place 4 weeks later

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

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

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

The rules have changed several times during the coronavirus outbreak.

Your council or housing association had to follow the rules in place at the time they gave you notice.

From 1 June until 31 July 2021

Most tenants are entitled to at least 4 months' notice.

This table shows the main situations where you could be given a shorter notice.

It sets out the minimum notice periods.

ReasonAssured tenantSecure tenant
4 months' rent arrears or more4 weeks 4 weeks
Antisocial behaviourNo notice No notice
Original tenant has died2 months4 weeks
False statement when you applied for tenancy2 weeks4 weeks

Between 29 August 2020 and 31 May 2021

Most tenants were entitled to 6 months' notice.

This table shows the main situations where you could have been given a shorter notice.

It sets out the minimum notice periods.

ReasonAssured tenantSecure tenant
6 months' rent arrears or more4 weeks4 weeks
Antisocial behaviourNo noticeNo notice
Original tenant has died3 months4 weeks
False statement when you applied for tenancy2 weeks4 weeks

Between 26 March and 28 August 2020

All tenants were entitled to 3 months' notice between these dates.

Before 26 March 2020

Notice periods were shorter before the coronavirus outbreak.

Most council tenants were entitled to 4 weeks' notice.

Most housing association tenants were entitled to:

  • 2 weeks for rent arrears or breaking terms of the tenancy

  • 2 months for a no fault reason, for example, demolition or redevelopment

Your notice is valid for a year

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

With an 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 because of coronavirus.

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:

The courts are prioritising cases such as antisocial behaviour or very high rent arrears to be dealt with sooner than others.

What to do: read the court paperwork carefully 

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

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

If you can't complete the form or get help with it, court guidance says you could send a short statement to the court instead.

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.

3. The review date

The court sends you a notice of review at least 3 weeks before the review date.

You don't need to attend court for the review but you should be available by phone.

A judge will check that all the court paperwork is in order and if you and your landlord have been able to come to an agreement.

What to do: get legal help on the day

Use the free court duty scheme.

The notice of review tells you how to contact a court duty adviser.

You should not agree to give up your home without speaking to an adviser.

4. The court hearing

The court sends you a notice of possession hearing.

It tells you the:

  • the date and time

  • where it will happen

  • how to get free legal help on the day

It will usually be held at your local county court 4 weeks after the review.

Some hearings are being held online or by phone because of coronavirus. 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 can't. For example, sudden and serious ill health.

What to do: always go to the hearing

You can attend even if you didn't 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:

5. 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 what to do if you have rent arrears and get notice from the bailiffs.


Last updated: 28 May 2021

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