This page is for private renters.
We have different advice for council and housing association tenants facing eviction.
No evictions by bailiffs will take place between 17 November and 11 January except in very limited circumstances.
Evictions can go ahead where the court has made an order because:
- there was antisocial behaviour
- you owed more than 9 months' rent before 23 March 2020
The courts will continue to process cases during lockdown. You still need to read any letters from the court and attend the hearing if there is one.
What is a section 8 notice?
A section 8 notice is a landlord's first step towards ending either:
To use a section 8 notice your landlord needs a legal reason for eviction which they must prove in court.
Legal reasons for eviction are called 'grounds for possession' on the notice.
The process takes time and sometimes the court can stop an eviction. Get legal advice on your situation.
More than one notice
Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies.
If you have this tenancy type, your landlord may be able to use the section 21 eviction process instead or as well.
They don't need a legal reason to give you a section 21 notice but there are other rules they must follow.
Check your notice is valid
The court won't order eviction if your section 8 notice is invalid.
It could be invalid if it doesn't give you:
- the right amount of notice
- a date after which court action can start
- the grounds for possession, or explain why they are being used
A section 8 notice lapses a year after you're given it unless your landlord starts court action within this time.
Keep talking to your landlord. They may delay court action if you can get back on track with your rent and pay off any arrears.
How much notice you should get if you have rent arrears
Rent arrears is the most common reason for a section 8 notice.
Your notice will mention grounds 8, 10 or 11 if you're facing eviction for rent arrears.
The length of notice depends on:
- the level of rent arrears
- when you were given the notice
The rules have changed during the coronavirus outbreak.
|When you were given notice||Minimum notice period|
|On or after 29 August 2020||6 months - if less than 6 months' arrears|
4 weeks - if 6 months' arrears or more
|Between 26 March and 28 August 2020||3 months|
|Before 26 March 2020||2 weeks|
If your landlord uses ground 8
The court must order eviction if your landlord can show that you had at least 2 months' arrears both:
- when you were given notice
- when the judge makes a decision
The judge won't be able to take coronavirus factors such as unemployment, furloughing or illness into account when they make an order.
Although they can consider these factors when deciding how soon to deal with your case.
Try to reduce your rent arrears below 2 months by the time of the hearing.
The court can't order eviction on ground 8 if you owe less than 2 months' rent
They might still order eviction on another ground.
Other rent arrears grounds
Your notice might include the following grounds as well as ground 8:
- ground 10 - any amount of rent arrears
- ground 11 - late payment of rent
The court can decide if it's reasonable to order eviction if your landlord only uses these grounds or can't prove ground 8.
The court will look at the information you and your landlord provide at the hearing.
Other grounds for possession
There may be other legal reasons for eviction with a section 8 notice.
Check your notice to see if any other grounds are listed.
With ground 14 there is no minimum notice period. Your landlord could start court action as soon as they've given you notice.
How much notice you're entitled to depends on when your landlord gave you notice.
Use this table to check the minimum notice periods if other grounds are used.
|Grounds||Before 26 March||Between 26 March and 28 August||Notice on or after 29 August|
|1, 2, 5, 9, 16||2 months||3 months||6 months|
|3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 15||2 weeks||3 months||6 months|
|7 - original tenant has died||2 months||3 months||3 months|
|7A - serious antisocial behaviour||4 weeks||3 months||4 weeks|
|7B - no right to rent||2 weeks||3 months||3 months|
|8, 10 and 11 - rent arrears||2 weeks||3 months||
6 months - if less than 6 months' arrears|
4 weeks - if 6 months' arrears or more
|17 - tenancy given because of a false statement||2 weeks||3 months||2 weeks|
If your landlord starts court action
Your landlord can apply for a possession order once the notice period has ended.
You will get several letters and forms from the court. Keep them together in a file.
This table shows the main documents you should get before a court hearing.
|Letters received||What this means|
|Claim and defence forms||Your landlord has applied for a possession order.|
|Reactivation notice||Your landlord has applied to restart the court process.|
|Notice of review||The court has scheduled a review date for your case.|
|Notice of possession hearing||The court has arranged a hearing for you to attend.|
Claim and defence forms
The court will send you a:
- N5 claim form
- N11R defence form
Read the claim form carefully. Look for any mistakes or anything you disagree with.
The defence form lets you tell the court why you shouldn’t be evicted. For example, if:
- what the landlord says isn’t true
- you can make an offer to repay rent arrears
- you have a claim for compensation that will reduce any arrears
Get legal help to complete the defence form. You have 2 weeks to return it to the court.
If you can't get help and don't know what to write, court guidance says you could send a short statement to the court instead.
You should explain your situation and why a possession order should not be made.
You will get a reactivation notice if your landlord applied for a possession order before 3 August 2020 and now wants to restart the court process.
Your landlord must set out what they know about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on you and your household.
They must include information about your rent payments for the last 2 years if they say you have arrears
They must also provide further information if they believe the court should prioritise your case for a review. For example, because of very high rent arrears or significant antisocial behaviour.
Get legal advice if you get a reactivation notice.
Notice of review
A notice of review tells you the date your case will be reviewed by a judge.
You don't need to attend in person.
Get legal advice before the review date.
If you're unable to do this, you can get legal help from a court duty adviser on the day.
The notice of review tells you how to do this.
The court hearing
A hearing will usually be at your local county court 4 weeks after the review date.
You will get a 'notice of possession hearing' from the court which tells you:
- the time and date
- how to get free legal help on the day from a duty adviser
Get legal advice before the hearing if you can.
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.
The hearing should only take about 15 minutes.
Follow any guidance from the court on arrival times, social distancing and face coverings.
What the court can decide
The judge will listen to both sides and either make a decision or say you have to come back for another hearing.
The judge could dismiss the landlord’s claim if they decide that the ground doesn’t apply. For example, if the landlord can’t prove you’re in rent arrears.
If your landlord can prove a ground, the judge could make:
- an outright order - which sets a date for possession
- a suspended possession order - which allows you to stay in your home as long as you keep to conditions such as paying off arrears
The judge must make an outright order if your landlord proves a mandatory ground. For example, if Ground 8 is used and you're still in at least 2 months’ arrears.
If the judge makes an order, you usually have to pay the court fees and some or all of your landlord’s legal costs. There are limits on how much you can be ordered to pay towards your landlord's legal costs.
Eviction by bailiffs
Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.
Your landlord can apply for bailiffs 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 ground 8, even if you clear the arrears.
Find out what happens if the eviction goes ahead.
Last updated 18 November 2020 | © Shelter
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