Eviction from your home
Your landlord must follow the proper legal procedure to require you to leave your home.
One of the main reasons for a legal procedure being in place is to provide due time for you to find alternative accommodation. It is therefore worth checking that the landlord has followed the correct repossession process for landlords. Landlords are entitled to evict tenants, but must do so legally and a number of recent changes have been made to the law.
When a landlord wants you to leave, the technical term is that they require possession of the property. The procedure starts with giving you notice. The procedure varies depending on how you occupy your home. The main procedures are as follows:
- To require you to leave during a fixed term tenancy or an assured tenancy, including an assured short hold tenancy and a starter tenancy, your landlord must first give you a formal written notice of their intention to seek possession from the courts stating a valid legal reason for eviction. For most tenancies this is a Section 8 Notice.
- Alternatively, to require you to leave at or after the end of a fixed term tenancy (including a 6 months assured short hold tenancy and a starter tenancy), the landlord can give you 2 months notice in writing that they require possession without stating a reason. This is called Section 21 notice.
- If you share the property with your landlord, they have to give you 'reasonable' notice, or the amount of notice specified in the rental agreement. This can be written or verbal and no reason has to be given.
Illegal eviction (or harassment) may have occurred if your landlord:
- Told you to get out of your home without proper notice
- Physically or verbally threatened you
- Locked you out of your home
- Cut off your gas or electricity
- Stopped you getting into part of your home
Unless you share the property with the landlord, the law makes it a criminal offence for them to evict you without obtaining a court order.
If you have received notice
Please contact the Housing Options Team for further advice. If the notice is valid and the landlord wants to repossess, finding somewhere else to live is often difficult. It is sometimes therefore worth trying to persuade the landlord not to pursue possession. Eviction and re-letting can be expensive for the landlord so you may be able to persuade them not to seek repossession.
- Speak to your landlord as soon as possible. Do you know the reason why they have given you notice? If not, ask them
- If the reason is rent arrears, see below
- Offer to do what you reasonably can to address the reason
- If you need help to stay out of trouble, agree to accept on-going support either from the landlord or from a support service
- If the landlord agrees that they no longer require possession, ask them to confirm this in writing
- For more information about the different types of notice see housing charity Shelter's Website
- Our Housing Options Team will speak to the landlord on your behalf if you ask them
- If possible agree to start paying the rent and to pay off the arrears over time. Pay as much as you can towards the rent before paying towards unsecured loans e.g. credit cards. If you need help see financial difficulties.
- If your income is low make sure you have claimed Housing Benefit - available to people in work as well as people who do not work.
- If there is a problem with your Housing Benefit claim it is your job to sort it out. Housing Benefit can often be back-dated to clear arrears, but you need to provide the information needed or else your claim may be cancelled.
- Explain to your landlord what you are doing to reassure them.
- If you have rent arrears because of something outside your control, e.g. loss of employment or reduction in hours, speak to Housing Options about possible financial help.
If the landlord still wants you to leave
If you have received Section 21 notice and, having done what you can, the landlord says that they do require possession, you need to find somewhere else to live.
You should try and find somewhere that enables you to leave by the date on which the landlord is seeking possession as stated in the notice. However if you do not manage to do this, unless you share the property with your landlord, you do not have to leave by that date. You are legally allowed to stay in the property until the landlord has obtained a court order granting possession.
Explain to the landlord that you are looking for somewhere else and need a little longer. The Court has to grant possession to the landlord (provided the notice has been served correctly and your landlord has protected any deposit you paid), so you definitely need to find somewhere else to live unless the landlord agrees that they no longer require possession.
If you have received a Section 8 Notice and, having done what you can, the landlord says they are going to seek possession, you will receive notice of the court hearing.
If you accept that the reason given by the landlord is valid, the court is likely to grant them possession so you need to find somewhere else to live and should start looking straight away. However you are not required to leave your home until the date specified by the court.
If you do not think the landlord has the right to possession or you disagree with anything the notice says, discuss this with the landlord and speak to Housing Options. It may be possible to persuade the court not to grant possession. Attend the court hearing, arrive early and ask for the Court Desk Service; this is a free service which can then represent you in court and argue that you should not lose your home.
If you share the property with the landlord then they do not have to obtain a Court Order in order to gain possession. Hence they are allowed to change the locks in order to exclude you once the reasonable notice they have given you has expired. If you cannot change their mind you need to find somewhere else to live by the end of the notice period.
If you find somewhere else to live which you need to start renting before the date in the notice, ask your landlord if you can end the tenancy early. If they say no and you receive Housing Benefit, ask at the Customer Service Centres or call 01283 508422 about claiming Housing Benefit on both properties for up to 4 weeks.
Receiving a Possession Order or a Warrant for Possession
You need to find somewhere else to live so that you can leave by the date stated. If you need advice about doing this, speak to Housing Options as soon as possible.