Get advice if you are a housing association tenant threatened with eviction. You may be able to prevent eviction or defend the case if it goes to court.
Where to get advice
You lose a lifetime tenancy if you're evicted from an assured housing association tenancy. Most housing association tenants have this tenancy type.
Get advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction.
You may qualify for legal aid (free advice or representation) 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.
Reasons for eviction from an assured tenancy
The law sets out reasons why you can be evicted from an assured housing association tenancy. These are called 'grounds for possession'.
To evict you, the court must agree that at least one ground for possession applies. There are two main types: discretionary grounds and mandatory grounds.
Mandatory grounds for eviction
The court must order your eviction if the council proves that a mandatory ground for possession applies to you.
You can ask the court to delay your eviction up to a maximum of 42 days from the date of the hearing.
If you don't leave, the housing association can ask the court to send bailiffs to evict you. The court has no power to suspend the bailiffs warrant.
The mandatory grounds most likely to be used are:
- rent arrears
- deliberate overcrowding
- for demolition or major works
Rent arrears of more than 8 weeks or 2 months
The court must make an order to evict you if you owe either
- more than eight weeks' rent (if you pay weekly)
- two months' rent (if you pay monthly)
This ground only applies if you have this amount of rent arrears both at the time the housing association gave you the notice to leave and on the date of the court hearing.
You'll have a better chance of keeping your home if you can get your rent arrears below eight weeks or two months by the time of the court hearing. The reason why you have not paid the rent usually doesn't matter.
If your rent arrears are less than 8 weeks or 2 months, the court cannot make a mandatory order for possession. It could decide that you should be evicted for rent arrears using a discretionary ground for possession instead.
You can be evicted if you or a member of your household or a visitor has already been convicted of antisocial behaviour.
This ground could be used if, for example, you have been convicted of:
- a serious offence
- a breach of a criminal behaviour order
- breaching a court order in relation to serious noise nuisance
There are also discretionary grounds for antisocial behaviour.
Demolition or major works
You could be evicted because the housing association wants to demolish or reconstruct your home. You can also be evicted because the housing association needs to carry out major repairs on your home that can't be done while you live there.
Your landlord must pay your removal costs up to a reasonable amount.
Discretionary grounds for eviction
It's not enough for the housing association to prove that there is a discretionary ground for eviction. The court must also decide that it is reasonable for you to lose your home.
The court should take into account if you are able to pay off any rent arrears or if you can take action to address any breaches of your tenancy agreement. It should consider any relevant circumstances such as your health and how long you have lived in your home.
The discretionary grounds most likely to be used are rent arrears, antisocial behaviour, breaking your tenancy agreement and making a fraudulent application.
Rent arrears and late payment of rent
The housing association can ask the court to evict you for any amount of rent arrears.
It can also ask the court to evict you if you are regularly late paying your rent.
You can be evicted for antisocial or violent behaviour, if you:
- cause a nuisance in your neighbourhood
- harass your landlord or their staff
- use your home for illegal activities, such as drug dealing
- are violent towards your spouse or partner and they leave home as a result
- commit an offence during a riot anywhere in the UK
You can also be evicted if a member of your household or a visitor behaves in this way.
There is also a mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour.
As an alternative to trying to evict you, your landlord could apply to the court to demote your tenancy if you or your family have been involved in antisocial behaviour. You can ask the court not to agree to this.
Breaking your tenancy agreement
You should be given a written tenancy agreement when you become a housing association tenant.
Your tenancy agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities of you as a tenant and the housing association as your landlord.
The housing association can take you to court if you break the terms of your tenancy agreement, for example if you don't:
- pay the rent on time
- pay the water charges included in your rent
- allow workmen in to carry out necessary repairs
You can be evicted if you lied to get your tenancy. For example, if you did not disclose that you owned another property when you filled in the application to go on the housing waiting list.
Support before eviction for rent arrears
Before your housing association takes you to court to evict you for rent arrears, it should follow the steps set out in the rent arrears protocol.
These say the housing association must:
- write to you about your arrears
- help you with your housing benefit claim
- offer other support if you are vulnerable
The housing association must try to reach an agreement with you to repay the arrears so that it can avoid taking you to court.
Last updated 01 Nov 2016 | © Shelter
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