Letters from the court
If your landlord applies to court for a possession order you should receive a letter from the court.
If you have received a letter, get urgent advice. It may not be too late to stop the eviction, even if a court hearing is about to take place. Call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline, email our housing advice team, or, visit advice near you to find a local Shelter Cymru advice surgery where you can talk to someone in person.
What will the letter tell me?
For most tenants, if you have not moved out of your home after any notice has ended, your landlord can apply to court for a possession order to legally evict you.
The court should write to you to tell you :
- the date of any court hearing
- the reasons (if any) why your landlord has made the application
- what you should do next.
The court should also send you a copy of your landlord’s claim form and a ‘Defence form’ for you to complete and return to the court.
Will there always be a court hearing?
There will usually be a court hearing so that you and your landlord can explain the situation to a judge.
The only exception to this is if your landlord has used the Accelerated Possession procedure and :
- you are an assured shorthold tenant
- your landlord is asking the court to evict you under the ‘section 21 – no fault’ ground
- you don’t disagree with your landlord’s claim, and
- you haven’t asked the court to delay the eviction.
In this situation, provided all of the above conditions are met, there will not automatically be a court hearing and the judge can make a possession order without a hearing. If you disagree with your landlord’s claim under the Accelerated Possession procedure it is important that you complete and return the Defence form so that a court hearing can be scheduled.
How do I reply to the court?
In all cases it is important that you complete and return the Defence form to the court.
You may be asked to pay part of your landlord’s legal costs if you don’t have a good reason for not returning the form in time. Giving information about your circumstances may help the court decide whether or not to make a possession order.
Explain your situation as fully as you can and provide evidence if possible. For example :
- explain why you have fallen behind with your rent (perhaps your housing benefit or universal credit has been delayed, or you have lost your job)
- if you disagree with any information your landlord has given about why you are being evicted, explain why
- you can ask the court to allow you more time to find somewhere else to live. You might want to do this if you have health problems or have young children and may not be able to find a place quickly.
The court will ask you to reply within 14 days.
If you don’t reply within 14 days you can usually still explain your situation to the court at the hearing. The only exception to this is if you are an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord is using the Accelerated Possession procedure. In this situation a hearing won’t automatically be arranged unless you return the Defence form (N11B Wales) within 14 days explaining why you disagree with your landlord’s claim (see above).
Get advice quickly if you have received papers from the court and you want advice about whether you have a defence.
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.