On 21st September courts start to deal with evictions again.
There is a backlog of cases and the eviction process takes time.
Eviction rights of regulated tenants
If your tenancy started before 15 January 1989, you could be a regulated tenant. Regulated tenants have stronger rights than most other private tenants.
The landlord will have to prove to the court that a legal reason to evict you applies. Usually the court must also decide if it's reasonable for you to lose your home.
Where to get advice
Get advice as soon as you can if you're threatened with eviction. Don't give up your home without doing this.
You may qualify for free advice or representation through legal aid if you're on a low income:
You can get advice from Shelter regardless of your income:
Have your notice and court paperwork with you when you speak to an adviser.
The eviction process
If your landlord wants you to leave, they need to:
- give you a written notice
- apply to court for a possession order
- ask court bailiffs to evict you
Court action for eviction is on hold until 20 September. That means your landlord can give you notice but they can’t go to court to evict you.
From 29 August your landlord normally needs to give you at least 6 months written notice before they can apply to court.
However they can give you:
- 4 weeks’ notice if you are in more than 6 months’ arrears
- 4 weeks’ notice for antisocial behaviour
- 3 months’ notice if someone in your household has no right to rent
Between 26 March and 28 August they had to give you 3 months’ notice.
Before 26 March they could apply to court without giving notice first.
The court process
At the end of the notice your landlord can apply for a possession order from the court, then:
- the court writes to you to tell you about the landlord's eviction claim
- you can send a defence form to the court to set out why you shouldn’t be evicted
- you can go to the court hearing
- the court makes a possession order
- you landlord applies for bailiffs to evict you
- court bailiffs can evict you if the court agrees
The process to evict a regulated tenant can often be stopped or delayed at any stage.
Discretionary grounds for eviction
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground for possession the court has to consider whether the ground is proved and that it is reasonable for possession to be granted.
It is up to the court to decide what is reasonable. Your particular circumstances should be taken into account.
Discretionary grounds include:
- suitable alternative accommodation is available for you (this is likely to be another private tenancy with similar strong tenancy rights)
- you have rent arrears
- you have breached the terms of your tenancy agreement
- you've been involved in antisocial behaviour
- you've damaged the property or any furniture that was provided
- you have sublet your whole home without the landlord's consent
- you were employed by your landlord and the accommodation is needed for a new worker
- your landlord or a member of your landlord's family needs the property to live in more than you do. They can't use this ground if you were a tenant in the property before they bought it
Even if the court does make a possession order it can suspend possession. This means that you can't be evicted as long as you keep to the conditions set by the court, for example by paying a certain amount each week towards your rent arrears.
Mandatory grounds for eviction
There are some situations where your landlord can take you to court for eviction and the court must order you to leave. This is when your landlord can prove to the court that a mandatory ground for possession applies.
These grounds can normally only be used if the landlord told you in writing at the start of your tenancy that you may be evicted for one of these reasons. These include:
- your landlord wants to return to live in the property (they must have lived there previously)
- your landlord wants to retire to the property
- a minister of religion normally occupies the property and needs to live there
- an agricultural worker normally occupies the property and needs to live there (and you are not an agricultural worker)
- your landlord is a member of the armed forces and intends to live there after discharge
If you are no longer living in the property, the landlord can get a possession order to evict you.
Eviction if your tenancy is at the contractual stage
Regulated tenancies have two stages:
The first is the contractual stage which lasts until your original agreement with your landlord ends.
The contractual stage ends either:
- when the fixed term runs out
- after your landlord serves a valid notice to quit or notice to increase the rent and the notice period expires
Your tenancy enters the statutory stage once the contractual stage comes to an end.
In general, as no new regulated tenancies can have started since 15 January 1989, it is unlikely that your tenancy is still in the contractual stage.
It is only possible for your landlord to get a court order to evict you once your tenancy is in its statutory stage.
It is against the law for your landlord to try to evict you without getting a court order.
Last updated 04 September 2020 | © Shelter
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