Eviction of housing association tenants

Your housing association must follow the right procedures to evict you. You may be able to challenge your eviction if they don't.

Steps to eviction

Your housing association must follow a process to evict you from an assured housing association tenancy.

If you have rent arrears, your housing association must try and help you address this before taking you to court.

Eviction should be a last resort for your housing association

You can challenge your eviction if your landlord doesn't follow the right steps or if you disagree with the reasons your landlord is evicting you

1. Send you notice to leave

Your housing association must give you the proper notice to leave.

This notice is called a 'notice seeking possession' or a section 8 notice.

The notice must be on a special form that sets out the:

  • grounds for possession (the reasons you are being evicted)
  • earliest date that your landlord can start court action to evict you

Grounds for possession are the legal reasons that the housing association wants to end your tenancy.

Notice period before court action

You usually get at least 2 weeks' notice of court action to evict you but your landlord can sometimes take you to court immediately if you are causing:

  • nuisance
  • antisocial behaviour

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

2. Start court proceedings

Your housing association can apply to the court for a possession order once the date in the notice has passed.

A possession order is a court instruction that says when you must leave your home.

The court then sends you a:

  • claim form with the reasons the housing association wants to evict you
  • defence form for you to complete and return to the court within 14 days
  • time and date of your eviction court hearing

Use the defence form to explain why you shouldn't be evicted - for example, how you plan to address rent arrears or antisocial behaviour in your home.

The housing association must start court action within 12 months of the date you get your notice. The notice is not valid after this.

The court hearing

You should go to the court hearing even if you haven’t sent back a defence form. It’s your chance to explain your situation and try to stop the eviction.

The court looks at the reasons the housing association wants to evict you. It looks at evidence from you and your landlord.

How to prepare for an eviction court hearing

Depending on your situation, the court may:

  • make an outright possession order - set a date when you must leave the property
  • make a suspended possession order - allow you to stay if you agree to conditions such as paying your arrears
  • adjourn the hearing to a later date
  • dismiss the case

When the court must order eviction

The court must make an outright possession order if your housing association can prove a ‘mandatory ground’.

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

You may be able to stop an order being made if you have a defence. For example, if you can show that you are not in 8 weeks rent arrears.

When the court can let you stay

If the housing association is using a 'discretionary ground' then the court can let you stay if either:

  • the housing association can’t prove the ground applies
  • the court decides it isn’t reasonable for you to lose your home

Discretionary grounds include:

  • Ground 10 - any amount of rent arrears
  • Ground 11 - late payment of rent
  • Ground 14 - causing nuisance or antisocial behaviour

The court could make a suspended order allowing you to stay as long as you meet certain conditions. For example, paying arrears.

Eviction by bailiffs if you don't leave

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

  • break the terms of a suspended order
  • stay past the date a court order says you must leave

You may be able to stop eviction by bailiffs in some cases.

Keep talking with your landlord

Always try to negotiate with your housing association right up to the day of your eviction date at court.

Your landlord may agree to stop the eviction if you address the reasons why you are being evicted - for example, if a family member who has caused noise nuisance leaves your home.

Get advice

Get advice immediately if you are facing eviction.

Contact a Shelter adviser as soon as your housing association threatens you with eviction.

Have your eviction notice and court papers ready.

You may qualify for legal aid or find free legal support if you're on a low income.

Last updated 17 Dec 2019 | © Shelter

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