Are you afraid that your landlord wants to evict you? We take you through the process to work out if they can and where you can get help and advice.
If you're worried about eviction, the useful things to know are:
- Am I going to be evicted?
- What are my rights on eviction?
- Section 21 Notices
- Section 8 Notices
- Where can I get help?
- Fighting your case
- More help
Am I going to be evicted?
If you’ve been asked to leave your rented property in England, try our interactive guide to eviction. We think it will help you to understand the eviction process and your own situation. If you answer a few short questions, the guide will let you work out what the next steps for you are likely to be.
If the guide finds there is a risk that you could be evicted soon, it tells you where to get more information and help.
What are my rights on eviction?
Landlords don’t have to give a reason for evicting their tenants. But they must follow certain rules.
It's a crime for a landlord to harass tenants or force them out of a property without following the right series of steps.
Harassment can be anything that makes tenants feel intimidated, unsafe or forces them to leave. It includes:
- turning off gas or electricity
- withholding keys
- refusing to carry out repairs
- deliberate anti-social behaviour by a landlord or someone on their behalf
- threats or physical violence.
A landlord can be guilty of illegal eviction if they:
- don't give the correct notice to leave the property
- change the locks
- evict without a court order.
Typically, landlords can end a tenancy and evict tenants in two ways: with a Section 21 Notice or with a Section 8 Notice.
Section 21 Notices
To end a tenancy without giving a reason, a landlord can use a Section 21 Notice.
A Section 21 Notice can't be used in all cases – it can only be used if the tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy.
Section 8 Notices
Landlords use Section 8 Notices to evict tenants who are in breach of their tenancy agreement. For example, a Section 8 Notice can be used in these situations.
- There are rent arrears.
- The tenant has damaged the property.
- The tenant is causing a nuisance to neighbours.
The amount of notice a tenant must get depends on the grounds of possession (the reasons the landlord gives for taking back the property). Normally, tenants get at least 14 days' notice.
But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the law around evictions has temporarily changed. For now, the length of notice landlords must give now depends on:
- the type of tenancy a tenant has, and
- the date they were asked to leave.
If you are having trouble paying your rent or are about to go into arrears, talk to your landlord. You might be able to agree to pay lower rent for a while, although your landlord does not have to accept this.
Where can I get help?
If you are a tenant threatened with eviction and need help finding somewhere else to live, you can contact your local council, Citizens Advice or a Law Centre. They may be able to put you in touch with other organisations to help or advise you.
Fighting your case
If you think you should be allowed to stay in your home, you can fight your case. But challenging it might be expensive. Make sure you have a good case and get good advice. If you can’t afford to pay for legal advice, you could check whether you can get legal aid at GOV.UK
You could also contact a Law Centre for help with your case.
If you don't leave the property by the date given, your landlord can apply for bailiffs to evict you.
Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home. They will be County Court bailiffs or High Court enforcement officers.
The bailiffs must give you at least seven days' notice before their first visit.
There are rules bailiffs must follow. This includes the times of day they can visit, and what happens if children are in the home when they visit.
They can only take your belongings to gather the debt. They can't take anything that belongs to someone else.
They can't take anything you need to live, such as a fridge or cooker.
The law around evictions in England and Wales has changed a lot during the last six months.
The governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have published information for tenants about eviction during the pandemic:
- Wales - Eviction during the coronavirus pandemic
- Northern Ireland - Protection against eviction
- Scotland - Renting and your rights during coronavirus if you have a private landlord