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Facing eviction for rent arrears?

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Eviction. What to do if you've got rent arrears

If you don’t come to an arrangement with your landlord to repay rent arrears, they may take further action to evict you from the property.

The process to evict you for rent arrears varies depending on your tenancy type. Social landlords usually have to take extra steps before starting court action, for example helping you apply for housing benefit, and giving you a chance to get free debt advice from an organisation like us.

In all cases, your landlord should tell you about the arrears and give you a chance to pay them back or come to an arrangement to pay them over time.

If you don’t do this, they’ll usually have to give you notice that they’re ending your tenancy. For many types of tenancy, this will be written notice called a notice to quit or notice of seeking possession.

Things to remember

  1. It’s never too early or too late to contact your landlord and make an arrangement towards your arrears.
  2. If you’ve got rent arrears from a house you used to live in, these aren’t a 'priority debt'. They become the same as an unsecured debt, like a credit card or personal loan.
  3. If your landlord refuses your offer of payment start paying it anyway, along with your normal rent payment. You should also send them a copy of your budget so they can see you’re paying as much as you can afford.

The eviction process

If you don’t pay back the arrears or leave the property by the date stated in the notice, your landlord can start court action to evict you. You’ll get some court forms and a hearing date in your local court. You’ll usually have to attend the hearing if you want to stay in the property. Extra court fees are likely to be added to your arrears.

At the hearing, a judge may allow you to stay in the property or they may give you a final date to leave. You may be able to ask the court to reconsider this, but for some tenancy types the court’s decision can’t be changed. If you don’t leave by the date the court gives you, the landlord can take further action to have you and your possessions physically removed.

Finally, some types of tenancy can be ended without court action, for example if you’re a lodger living in the same house as your landlord.

If you get any notice saying your tenancy is ending, or any court forms relating to your tenancy, get specialist housing advice.

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Specialist housing advice

Housing advice can be complex, so we recommend contacting an advice agency that specialises in this area.

  • If you live in England or Scotland contact Shelter. They have a telephone helpline  and a website full of useful information.
  • If you live in Wales contact Shelter Cymru.
  • In Northern Ireland Shelter NI can refer you to organisations that can help if you're struggling with rent arrears or eviction.

Contact your local authority if you're at risk of homelessness because of eviction. Their housing department will be able to advise you about applying for social housing or emergency accommodation.