Reasons your landlord can evict you

No evictions by bailiffs will take place until after 21 February except in very limited circumstances.

Evictions may still go ahead if the landlord has proved either:

  • antisocial behaviour

  • at least 6 months' rent arrears

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.

The eviction process

Most landlords need to apply for an eviction order from court before they can ask bailiffs to evict you.

Sometimes they need to prove a reason for the eviction in court.

Your landlord won't need to prove a reason for the eviction if they use the section 21 process but they must still apply to court.

With most other evictions, your landlord must prove a legal reason for eviction.

If you're a lodger or other excluded occupier, you can be evicted without a court order once your contract or reasonable notice has ended. Your landlord does not need to give a reason.

Section 21 eviction

Most private landlords can give a section 21 notice as a first step towards ending an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private renters have this type of tenancy.

A section 21 is sometimes called a ‘no fault’ notice as your landlord doesn't need to give a reason for wanting the property back.

When the notice period ends they can apply to court for a possession order.

Why landlords use section 21

Landlords use section 21 for a variety of reasons. For example, if they want to:

  • move into the property themselves

  • sell the property without a tenant living there

Some landlords use section 21 because they don't want to deal with repairs when the tenant complains. Some renters are protected from this type of revenge eviction.

You might also get a section 21 if you owe rent or the landlord is worried that you might fall into arrears.

Stopping a section 21 eviction

You may be able to persuade your landlord to allow you to stay. For example, if you can make an agreement to repay arrears.

You can only ask the court to stop the eviction if the section 21 notice is not valid.

Other evictions without a reason

If you're an occupier with basic protection, your landlord must get a court order before you can be evicted. They don't need to give you or the court a reason.

Occupiers with basic protection include some property guardians, students in university owned halls and tenancies at a very high rent.

Eviction for a legal reason

Some tenancies can only be ended for a legal reason.

Legal reasons for eviction are called 'grounds'. The landlord must prove a ground in court to get an eviction order.

Common grounds for eviction are:

  • rent arrears

  • nuisance or antisocial behaviour

Some grounds are 'mandatory.' This means the court must order you to leave if the landlord can prove the ground.

Other grounds are 'discretionary.' This means the court may decide to let you stay even if the landlord can prove the ground.

Private renters

Your landlord needs to prove a ground if either of the following apply:

With a section 8 notice, your landlord could use a mandatory ground if you owe at least 2 months' rent both when you get the notice and at the hearing.

Try and reduce or pay off any arrears by the time of the hearing.

Council and housing association tenants

Find out more about the grounds that can be used for:

Read our eviction guide if you're a secure or assured tenant and you're given notice because you're behind on the rent or have missed payments.

Read our antisocial behaviour advice if you're told your tenancy is at risk because of the behaviour of you or someone who lives with you or visits your home.

Eviction should be a last resort. There are things you can do to try and keep your home.

If you move out or don't stay in your home

Most tenancies require you to live in the property as your only or main home.

If you move out without ending your tenancy properly, your landlord can usually end the tenancy by giving you 1 month's written notice.

They would then normally need to apply to court to evict anyone living in the property.

If you move back in before the notice ends, the court may allow you to stay.

If you sublet the property

It's a criminal offence to move out and sublet your home if you're a council or housing association tenant. You're also likely to be evicted from the tenancy even if you move back in.

With a private tenancy, there will usually be a term that prevents you from subletting the property and you can be evicted if you do.

If you're staying somewhere else

Your tenancy could still be your main home if you're staying somewhere else, even if you're away for a lengthy period. For example:

  • on holiday

  • working away

  • in prison, hospital or a refuge

  • visiting or staying with relatives

You must intend to return and make sure that the rent is paid.

It's a good idea to have someone check your post while you're away.

If the landlord thinks you've abandoned the property or won't be coming back, they might try to end your tenancy with a 1 month notice.

If your relationship breaks down

You still have rights if you're married or in a civil partnership, even if the tenancy is not in your name.

You can continue to live in in the tenancy even if your spouse or civil partner moves out. The landlord must accept rent from you.

A private landlord might be able to take steps to end the tenancy with a section 21 but they must follow the legal process.

If you're not the tenant, and you're not married or in a civil partnership then you may be at greater risk of eviction if your former partner leaves.

If you rent privately, you may be able to sign a new tenancy agreement with the landlord in your name.

If it's a council or housing association tenancy, the landlord might serve a 1 month notice and then apply to court to evict you.


Last updated: 8 January 2021

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