Your landlord can ask a court to send bailiffs to evict you from your home. It's the bailiffs' job to hand the vacant property back to your landlord.
Who can evict tenants?
Only bailiffs authorised by a court can evict you.
Bailiffs who evict people are usually employees of your local county court. Sometimes they are private bailiffs authorised by the High Court.
The bailiff's job is to hand the property back to your landlord. They will make sure you and anyone else living there leave.
Don't delay if you want to challenge an eviction by bailiffs.
Notice that bailiffs are coming
County court bailiffs should write to tell you when they will evict you. They post or hand deliver a Notice of Eviction (Form N54). This contains their contact details.
Private bailiffs authorised by the High Court can arrive to evict you without giving you any notice. You will get some warning that this might happen because your landlord must give you notice that they're applying to the High Court to use private bailiffs.
What happens when the bailiffs evict you
Bailiffs usually come between 9am and 5pm. Ask to see their identification, for example a badge, ID card or enforcement agent certificate. Bailiffs must have this with them.
They will ask you to leave if you are still at home. Give them your keys and go. Bailiffs may wait a short time while you move out, for example because you have children or are disabled, but they don't have to.
Bailiffs can't use physical violence or offensive language.
The police don't usually come to an eviction. If you don't leave voluntarily, the bailiffs are likely to call the police. The landlord or the bailiff may ask them to attend if there is a risk of violence or to prevent a breach of the peace. You can be arrested for breach of the peace.
What happens to your belongings
On the day of eviction, bailiffs will ask you to remove all your belongings that are still in the property. Try to pack or remove most of your belongings before the eviction date. This will make things easier on the day. Bailiffs don't have to give you extra time to pack your things.
They can pick up your belongings and put them outside or lock them inside the property. You will then have to arrange a time with your landlord to go back and pick them up.
Bailiffs must not damage your belongings. The bailiffs should not take anything of yours to pay for their costs or to cover any rent arrears, unless the court gives them a separate court order to do this.
Your landlord must keep your belongings safe for a reasonable time if any are left behind. You could be charged for storage, removal and disposal if you don't collect them. Usually it is illegal for your landlord to destroy or sell your belongings.
If you ask the council for help because you are homeless, it may have to look after your belongings. You can be charged a fee for this.
Leaving before the bailiffs come
You don't have to stay in your home until the bailiffs arrive.
You should stay until the day of the eviction if you ask the council for help because you are homeless. If you leave before you have to, the council could decide you are intentionally homeless.
Moving back in after eviction
Your landlord will probably change the locks after you've been evicted. You can be charged with criminal damage if you try to get back in.
If you do move back in without the landlord's permission, you will be a squatter. Squatting is a criminal offence that you can be arrested for.
Homeless after eviction
Find out about help from the council if you are homeless.
Last updated 26 Apr 2017 | © Shelter