Can a housing association force you to move?

Most housing association tenants can only be evicted for certain legal reasons.

The housing association must prove the reasons and sometimes the court can decide if it's reasonable to make you leave.

You lose a lifetime tenancy if you're evicted from an assured tenancy.

Get free legal advice as soon as you can if you're facing eviction.

You can ask your council for help as soon as you are at risk of eviction. You do not have to wait until the eviction date.

Reasons for eviction from an assured tenancy

The law sets out reasons why you can be evicted from an assured tenancy. These are called 'grounds for possession'.

To evict you, the court must agree that at least one ground for possession applies. 

There are 2 main types: discretionary grounds and mandatory grounds.

Mandatory grounds for possession 

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 6 weeks from the date of the hearing.

If you don't leave, the housing association can ask bailiffs to evict you. The court has no power to suspend the bailiffs warrant.

The mandatory grounds most often used are listed here.

Ground 8: rent arrears of more than 8 weeks or 2 months

The court must make an order to evict you if the housing association is using ground 8 for rent arrears as its reason for wanting you to be evicted.

Ground 8 applies if you owe either

  • more than 8 weeks' rent if you pay weekly

  • 2 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 these levels by the time of the court hearing. 

There are also discretionary grounds for rent arrears.

Antisocial behaviour

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

The housing association can decide it wants to evict you to:

  • demolish or reconstruct your home

  • 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 possession 

It's not enough for your housing association to prove that a discretionary ground for eviction applies to you. The court must also decide that it is reasonable to make a possession order. (This could be an outright possession order or a suspended possession order).

The court should take into account if you can:

  • pay a lump sum to reduce rent arrears

  • make regular payments towards rent arrears

  • take action to put right any breaches of your tenancy agreement

The discretionary grounds most likely to be used are:

Rent arrears and late payment of rent

The housing association can ask the court to evict you for:

  • any amount of rent arrears

  • regularly paying your rent late

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

  • try to reach an agreement with you to repay the arrears 

Antisocial behaviour

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.

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 downgrade your tenancy.

Your housing association could decide to use a mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour if someone in your home has been convicted of an antisocial behaviour offence

Breaking your tenancy agreement

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

Your tenancy agreement sets out your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

You should be given a written tenancy agreement when you become a housing association tenant.

Fraudulent applications

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.

Last updated: 23 November 2022

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