How to stop eviction by bailiffs

Coronavirus update:

On 21st September courts start to deal with evictions again.

There is a backlog of cases and the eviction process takes time.

Get advice and legal help now

You are at risk of eviction by bailiffs if:

  • a court ordered you to leave your home by a date that has passed
  • you've broken conditions of a suspended order - for example, you haven't made rent arrears repayments

An adviser can help you assess your options.

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person.

If you qualify for legal aid contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345

Have your notice and court paperwork ready when you contact an adviser.

How you know the bailiffs are coming

You usually know the bailiffs are coming because you receive a bailiff's notice of eviction from the county court.

Some landlords ask high court bailiffs to evict you. Your landlord should tell you they are doing this but some don't.

Get advice immediately if you are facing eviction by high court bailiffs

Check if the court can stop or delay the bailiffs

Find out if the court can stop or delay the bailiffs if you are a:

If you're a private tenant the courts can't usually stop a section 21 eviction.

Apply to stop eviction by bailiffs

Use form N244 to ask the courts to:

  • stop the bailiffs
  • delay the bailiffs
  • make changes to your possession order

Find out from how to fill in form N244

Fees and costs

You usually have to pay court fees but may be exempt if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.

See court leaflet EX160A for help with fees.

Ask the court to stop the bailiffs

Use form N244 to explain why you want the bailiffs' warrant suspended.

You'll need to show the court how things will change.

If you're being evicted for rent arrears or antisocial behaviour:

  • show how you will repay rent arrears from now on
  • explain how the antisocial behaviour has changed - for example, if a family member causing antisocial behaviour has left

You can't be evicted if the court suspends the bailiffs' warrant. You must keep to conditions such as repaying arrears

Ask for changes to your possession order

You can also use form N244 to ask the court to change the terms in your possession order.

You will need to do this at the same time that you apply to suspend the bailiff's warrant.

You can ask the court to:

  • set aside (cancel) the possession order
  • change the date you have to leave
  • change the conditions you must comply with (for example, the amount of arrears you repay in instalments)

The court doesn't always have the power to change the terms of the order

Negotiate with your landlord

Councils and housing associations sometimes agree to withdraw the bailiff's warrant even on the day of a court hearing.

They can do this if they accept that you will improve problems such as rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.

Keep negotiating with your landlord up to your eviction date.

It’s more difficult for private tenants to negotiate, but try if your circumstances have changed - for example, if you can now repay rent arrears.

If your landlord agrees to delay your eviction, make sure that you:

  • get any new agreement with your landlord in writing
  • check with the court that the bailiffs' visit is cancelled

Never assume the bailiffs won't come just because your landlord says you can stay.

If the bailiffs' visit isn't cancelled, you must apply to the court to stop the bailiffs

Attend the court hearing

The court can hold a short court hearing to decide whether to stop the bailiffs. This could be on the same day that you apply.

The hearing is usually held in a small private room.

You should:

  • ask the court if there is a free legal advice service available
  • explain to the judge why it would be reasonable to stop or delay the eviction
  • take any evidence you have - for example, if you have a new job, explain that you can make arrears repayments from now on

The court won't set a hearing if it decides it doesn't have the power to stop the bailiffs.

Need more help?

If the court can't stop the eviction:

  • you will need to get your belongings back
  • find out if your council can help you with housing

Last updated 19 June 2020 | © Shelter

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