Most the most part, evictions inevitably do happen. Renters can be forced into seeking new accommodation. However, for protection against abuse, evictions can only take form through a strict legal procedure. Without the right process for the right tenancy, eviction cannot happen. And, landlords can never gain a possession order from the court.
Naturally, these procedures include notifications to the tenant for each step of the way. Also, there are legal options to protest and combat eviction.
First, get familiar with the eviction process. You need to know when, where and how to stand your ground and defend your tenant rights.
For most regular evictions, the first step is to receive a section 21 eviction notice from your landlord. It’s a written letter that says the landlord wants you to move out and return the property to him. It must give you at least two months of time and wait for the fixed term to expire to be legal. After this notice expires, the landlord can take further action using the justice system.
How to delay an eviction
Perhaps you’ve given up on fighting the eviction. OR, you want to get rid of your landlord as much as they want to get rid of you. If you don’t have enough time or resources to arrange your new living situation, you may wish to delay the eviction. You may simply need more time to organise your move.
The first and most simple way is to just ask your landlord. Unless you exhibit harmful behaviour or engage in unlawful activity, most landlords will approve a slight delay. You can easily get a week up to a month of delay. This way you can arrange your new property, or gather enough funds for a tenancy deposit.
Keep in mind: You will receive your current deposit only after your tenancy officially ends. You can’t rely on it to become your tenancy deposit in the next tenancy. Special occasions may be an exclusion to this rule.
If your landlord is being stubborn and denies any delay, you can simply not move out. That’s right, the section 21 only asks nicely that you move out. It is neither a possession order, granting legal occupation to the owner. Nor, it removes your rights of access as given by the tenancy agreement.
Your landlord has to apply for a possession order in the court. When granted, they must apply for a warrant of execution with the city bailiffs. The owner never gains any right to physically remove you from the property in the first place. They must wait for these procedures to roll out.
If they make a mistake with the documentation, they must go back and restart the current step. This can all take a lot of time. Some evictions can drag for up to half an year, until the tenant is finally out of the property.
We can’t encourage such a behaviour, but tenants do have this option. If you believe you’re being evicted against the law, do your best to delay every eviction process. You can buy more time to react and make appropriate decisions.
How to prevent an eviction
It may be possible to half or prevent an eviction altogether. First, examine the reasons for which your landlord wants you to move out. They must be listed on the section 21 notice, along with the desired move out date. Contact your landlord and see whether you can’t negotiate these reasons. Often landlords serve a notice to quit just to snap their tenants out. By using a notice to quit, landlords can enforce a degree of discipline in how the property is used.
If you’ve caused damage, delayed or missed rent payments and you’re served with a notice to quit, contact your landlord immediately. Often such errors on the tenant’s side are easy to make right and eviction can be prevented. You lose nothing by trying to communicate a resolution with the property owner, anyway.
Check out our special guides for negotiating with your landlord:
- Negotiating if your landlord doesn’t think you live in the property
- Negotiating neglect or damage to the property with your landlord
- Negotiating anti-social behaviour with your landlord
- Negotiating rent arrears with your landlord
Alternatively, if communication has failed, look for errors made by the landlord.
Section 21 notices can only be served under some conditions:
- They must always give the tenant two months or eight weeks of time before moving out.
- They must always set a moving date no sooner than the last date of the fixed period for fixed-term tenancies.
- The landlord must have protected the deposit and served prescribed information within 30 days of receiving it.
- The landlord must give reasons why they are evicting you, although any reason is valid in a notice to quit.
These are the common mistakes landlords make when serving you notice. Be on the lookout for them. If any of these is missing or is incorrectly listed, the landlord must restart. They have to serve a new notice with a new end date.
If the landlord tries to evict you within the interval of your fixed term, the must serve you a section 8 notice. Then they will directly apply to the court, seeking possession of the property. By law, the owner must give compelling reasons for your eviction before the court. Some grounds, if backed by evidence, are irrefutable. They will imminently lead to the landlord receiving a possession order. For example, rent arrears of upwards of two months will result in definite eviction.
Others must persuade the judge, who will discretionary grant or deny the possession order. If your case falls here, you will be given a chance to reply to your landlord’s claims. You have to supply your own evidence and statements.
How to challenge a possession order
Even if the landlord has obtained a possession order by the court, you will have a chance to fight it. If the landlord used a discretionary reason, new evidence might surface to challenge the initial decision of the judge. Also, if the landlord didn’t follow the proper procedure, or the court issued an order in error, you can appeal again.
You might be able to apply to:
- Have the possession order set aside
- Suspend or postpone the date for possession
- Vary the terms of the order
If the landlord proved a mandatory ground, the court can do nothing but grant them a possession order. In such case, it’s best to focus your time and energy in finding a new home. Delay the eviction with as time as you need to realise your move.
As previously stated, you can only get evicted if it follows the correct step by step process. This holds true even if the tenant is originally at fault and proven in the court.
Where to go for help
You will need to act quickly. It is advisable to get specialist in order to use the correct procedures and complete the court forms properly. For more detailed information, speak to an advisor at Shelter.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
For more ways to reach us, please visit our contacts page.