You may or may not be aware, that the temporary ban on evictions will end on Sunday 23rd August. From Monday 24th August, the courts will start to consider claims made by landlords, and evictions will re-start.
If you or anybody you know is facing eviction, it’s important that you understand what stage any action your landlord has taken against you has reached, and what you can do. Below is information produced by Citizens Advice which we suggest you take a few minutes to read.
1. Understand the process
It’s important to understand where in this process your case is. If your landlord has not yet given you a formal notice then you won’t be evicted for many months. If your landlord has already got a possession order and applied for a bailiff date, you might be evicted with 14 days’ notice. There are some exceptions – for example, if you’re a lodger sharing a home with your landlord they don’t need to go to court. If you live in self-contained accommodation and pay rent it’s likely that this process will apply. Check your tenancy type to be clear about the steps your landlord needs to take. You can also check any paperwork you have to see what stage you’re at.
2. No notice yet – time to talk to the landlord
Talk to your landlord. Explain the effect that Covid-19 has had on your household and income. Ask if they’ll accept reduced payments, or let you pay back arrears at a rate you can afford. Get advice about any help you might be entitled to e.g. Housing Benefit.
3. Notice served — check if it’s legally valid
Most landlords must now give 3 months’ notice, and this must be in a specific form*. If the landlord hasn’t followed other rules e.g. you’re living in an unlicenced property, this might also mean that the notice is invalid. Your landlord can only make a claim to court after the notice ends. You don’t need to leave by this date, but going to court might mean costs are added to your debt. If your landlord has served notice make sure you have a copy and get it checked. The 2 most common types for private and housing association tenants are a Section 21 notice and a Section 8 notice.
*You cannot be legally evicted by letter, email, text or phone call.
4. Going to court — is reactivation required ?
If your landlord originally applied to court before 3rd August, then the claim will have been paused by the eviction ban. From 23rd August, your landlord can serve a ‘reactivation notice’, which will mean that a claim where no order has been made becomes ‘live’ again, and will be listed for a court hearing. Some claims might have had an initial hearing before the pause, and will then continue from that stage. Any deadlines for information you were asked to provide will have been paused and will re-start or be changed. If the landlord starts the claim after 3rd August, they don’t need to serve a ‘reactivation notice’ and the court will arrange a hearing after 23rd August. The court might offer you a telephone or video hearing – you should let them know if there are reasons why you don’t think this is suitable. Sometimes a Section 21 claim can be decided by the court without a hearing if the tenant has not submitted any defence. This means that it’s really important to return your defence form if you want the court to consider your evidence or allow you extra time in the property.
Make sure that you have evidence of information which you gave your landlord about the effect Covid-19 has had on your household (such as loss of income), and of any payment you offered. Tell the court about this. The court will look at the information provided by you and the landlord and decide whether to make an order for possession – in some cases you might be able to stay if you can agree repayment of rent arrears at a rate you can afford. The court MUST make a possession order if a Section 21 notice is valid. A possession order will usually ask you to leave within 2–6 weeks.
5. Eviction by bailiffs – seek urgent advice
If the court had already decided your case before the eviction ban started (27th March), the landlord can ask bailiffs to carry out an eviction from 23rd August. You must be given 14 days’ notice of the eviction date. You should seek urgent advice about whether there’s any way to prevent or delay the eviction, or about finding alternative accommodation.
So, make sure that you:
- Don’t ignore any paperwork sent to you by your landlord or the court
- Get some help and advice as soon as possible and make sure you check if the eviction your landlord is attempting is actually legal and they have complied fully with the law