Legal Guide: Eviction – a guide for tenants

Eviction – a guide for tenants

POSTED 19/10/17

A tenant’s guide to dealing with eviction

There are very clear rules and procedures your landlord must follow if they wish for you to leave a property. If these rules are not followed your landlord may be guilty of a criminal offence. The courts take eviction very seriously, as they understand the impact losing your home can have.

The following guide applies to those renting their property under a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy (where the tenancy runs for a set amount of time, usually six or twelve months). Processes differ for other arrangements, such as lodgers. We advise you to speak to a solicitor to understand your rights according to your particular circumstances.

Your landlord has asked you to leave the property during the fixed term

Your landlord cannot ask you to vacate before the end of the fixed term unless they can prove a legal reason to do so, for example you’ve not paid rent or have used the property for illegal purposes such as selling drugs. Whatever the circumstances we strongly advise you seek advice as soon as possible.

Your landlord has told you to leave immediately, or with very short notice

Landlords are required to give notice of between two weeks and two months, depending on the reasons they are relying on. If your fixed term has passed, the standard way a landlord can ask you to leave is through a section 21 notice. This gives you two months notice to leave.

The other notice a landlord can serve is a section 8. This is used when the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy within the fixed term, for example by using the property for illegal purposes.

The landlord must satisfy a number of criteria before any notice to leave is valid. If you’ve received a notice we advise you to seek advice as soon as possible to ensure the notice is legally valid and to discuss your options.

You’ve been served notice and the deadline has passed

If a notice hasn’t been acted on, you can apply to the court for a possession order. There are different orders depending on whether or not rent is owed. Your solicitor will advise you on which order to pursue.

If the tenants want to challenge the order there may be a court hearing, but in most cases a possession order is issued without the need to go to court. Your solicitor will prepare and apply for the order, and will be on hand at every step to ensure all is done to progress action as quickly as possible.

The court has ordered them to leave but tenants haven’t left the property

You cannot be evicted until your landlord gets a possession order from the court. They can apply for this once the notice period stipulated in the section 21 or section 8 notice has run out.

Under some circumstances, such as you contest the order, a hearing will be held. At a court hearing the court will either grant an outright possession order, which will allow the landlord to instruct a bailiff, the possession order might be suspended or postponed or a judgement made against you for money owned (in the case of rent arrears). The court could also decide to adjourn or dismiss the case depending on the details of the case.

It’s important to prepare thoroughly for this hearing as you will have an opportunity to put forward your side, give details of your circumstances and the impact of an order. At Setfords we have a wealth of experience acting for tenants in eviction matters and can advise you at every stage.

Know your rights and seek advice

Landlord and tenant law can be complicated, and each case is different. While the law is designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, many tenants are unaware of their rights and feel pressured into making decisions that they do not need to, and aren’t in their best interests. If you have been served with notice to leave for any reason, or your landlord is behaving in any way that makes you feel threatened or harassed, seek advice as soon as you can.

Please note that these guides are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. You can contact one of our expert consultant lawyers using the form below.

Saida Bello
Saida Bello


“We understand that the prospect of eviction can feel overwhelming, and the stress of upheaval can take its toll. The most important thing is not to panic. As a tenant, the law can protect you from pressure and harassment from your landlord and gives you time to consider your options. A good solicitor will ensure your rights are being exercised, help alleviate anxiety and make sure you are treated fairly.”

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