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.
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.
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
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.
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