Receiving notice of eviction from the council
As a secure tenant you can only be evicted from your home in certain circumstances, such as breaking one of the terms of your tenancy agreement. If this happens, the council has to give you notice before it can take any further action. The amount of notice you get will depend on the reasons for your eviction.
If you receive a notice from your council it is important not to bury your head in the sand. Get advice as soon as you can – visit advice near you to find an adviser in your area.
Am I a secure tenant?
Most council tenants have secure tenancies. The only exceptions to this are:
- if you are in interim accommodation that the council has provided for you as a homeless person
- if the council has given you an introductory or demoted tenancy (see below)
- if you are resident in a hostel provided by the council
- if you are no longer living in the property and don’t intend to return to it.
What is a notice?
Before the council can apply to court to evict you if you are a secure tenant, it has to give you a warning notice. This is called a ‘Notice of Seeking Possession’ (or NSP).
In most cases, the NSP should last for a period of at least 4 weeks. The NSP must explain what the reasons (also known as ‘Grounds‘) for the eviction are.
If the council wants to evict you because it says you have been involved in serious nuisance, anti-social behaviour or domestic violence there is no minimum period before possession action can commence. The council can serve a NSP and apply to the court immediately.
If the council wants to evict you because you have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, breached an anti-social behaviour order, criminal behaviour order, noise abatement notice or have obtained a closure order, then it must give you a notice explaining the reasons why they want to evict you. This notice must tell you that you have a right to ask for a review of their decision to evict you. If you want to ask for a review you only have 7 days to do it so you must get advice quickly.
In most cases the notice will be valid for 12 months. If the council hasn’t started its court action before the end of the 12 month period, it will have to serve you with a fresh notice.
What happens next?
As soon as you receive notice from the council, you should get advice from Shelter Cymru or another housing adviser. The faster you respond to the notice, the more likely you are to keep your home.
If you don’t respond to the notice or the council isn’t happy with your response, the next step it will take is to apply to court for a possession order. You will know if the council has done this because the court will send you a letter and papers setting out why the council are applying for an order. The court papers should tell you:
- that the council is applying for ‘possession’ of your home (ie to evict you)
- what Grounds (if these are needed) the council is using for the eviction – the grounds will depend on the type of tenancy you have
- when the court date is
- that you can make arrangements to defend the claim (and will include a defence form, which should normally be returned to the court within 14 days).
If you haven’t seen an adviser by this stage, make sure you contact one immediately. You might qualify for help from the Legal Aid Agency to be represented in court and it still might not be too late to stop the eviction.
What if I have an introductory or demoted tenancy?
If you have an introductory or demoted council tenancy it is much easier for the council to evict you. The council doesn’t have to prove a legal reason in court – if it has followed the correct procedure, the judge will have no choice but to give possession to the council.
The council must give you at least four weeks’ notice that it intends to go to court to evict you and explain its reasons why. The notice must also tell you that you have the right to request a review of the council’s decision – this is an internal appeal to the council where it considers your circumstances. But there is a time limit. You must submit a request to review the council’s decision within 14 days.
Contact an adviser as soon as you receive the notice from the council. Do not wait. An adviser may be able to:
- talk to the council on your behalf
- sort out any problems with your Housing Benefit claim
- arrange help or support for any other problems you might have, eg debt, substance misuse, mental health
- help you settle a dispute with a neighbour
- help you request a review of the council’s decision to evict you.
A specialist adviser may also be able to help you with your arguments against the eviction and put a legal case together. If you miss the 14-day deadline to request a review, you are in serious danger of losing your home. But it may not be too late – consult an adviser straight away.
What if I live in temporary accommodation, supported housing, or a hostel?
If you live in temporary accommodation, supported housing, or a hostel and are threatened with eviction, get in touch with Shelter Cymru immediately. An adviser can check what type of licence or tenancy you have and explain what your rights are.
You may not be entitled to a court order, or even a written notice.
If you are evicted from temporary accommodation you will find yourself in a very difficult situation, because it is very unlikely that the council will provide you with any further help and you may find it difficult to find alternative housing.
Don’t assume the council has to rehouse you. Get advice as soon as you can.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.