Stopping the bailiffs from evicting you
Most tenants can only be evicted if their landlord gets a possession order from the court and the date on it has passed. When this happens, the landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you. This page explains what the bailiffs are allowed to do and how you may be able to stop them.
If you are in this situation and you haven’t spoken to an adviser yet you should do so immediately. For urgent advice call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005.
How will I know when the bailiffs are coming?
The bailiffs’ office at the court will write to you to inform you of the date and time the bailiffs will arrive. This letter is a formal court document (form N54) and is called a ‘Notice of eviction’. The amount of notice you will be given depends on your local bailiffs’ office. You should have at least a few days’ notice. Bailiffs are employed by the county court.
What should I do when I get a letter from the bailiffs?
Get in touch with an adviser as soon as you receive a notice of eviction.
An adviser can tell you:
- whether you might be able to stop or delay the bailiffs
- what your other housing options are.
The sooner you act the more chance you have to keep your home or find somewhere else to go before the bailiffs arrive. Have the papers you received from the court with you when you speak to an adviser.
Anyone can call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005 or email Shelter Cymru for advice. For face to face help, visit Advice near you to find a Shelter Cymru adviser in your area.
If you are threatened with homelessness you could also contact your local council. They may have a duty to help you keep your home or help you to secure other accommodation. See our pages on Help from the Council for more information.
Can I stop or delay the bailiffs?
You may be able to stop or delay your eviction by the bailiffs in certain circumstances, but you will need to act immediately. Whether you can stop or postpone the eviction will depend on the type of tenancy you have and the reason your landlord obtained a possession order.
You have to apply to court to stop or delay an eviction. You will need to fill in a form explaining your circumstances and the reason you want the bailiffs’ visit to be stopped or delayed. You normally have to pay a court fee, but you may not have to pay this if you are claiming benefits or you have a low income. You will usually be given a date and time for a hearing.
At the hearing the judge will normally only stop the bailiffs if there is a legal reason (such as health problems) why you have not done something to stop the eviction earlier. Saying that you will become homeless may not be enough.
If the judge does stop or delay the bailiffs’ visit, contact the bailiffs’ office to make sure that they are aware that the eviction has been stopped or delayed.
If the judge doesn’t agree to stop or delay the bailiffs, the eviction will go ahead. You need to find alternative accommodation immediately. If you have no where to go, contact your local council’s homelessness department. The council may have a duty to help you secure other accommodation and, depending on your circumstances, provide you with emergency housing. See our pages on Help from the Council for more information.
What happens when the bailiffs arrive?
The bailiffs will remove you from the property and secure it so that you cannot get back in. If you are not there the property will be secured so that you cannot get in. Your landlord or your landlord’s representative must be present at the eviction so that the bailiffs can give possession. When this has been done your landlord can change the locks to prevent you re-entering the accommodation.
The bailiffs can ask the police to be present if they think you might try to stop the bailiffs from getting in. The police are not allowed to help the bailiffs with the eviction but are there in case there is any disturbance. The police can arrest anyone who is violent.
There are no restrictions as to what time of day the bailiffs can carry out the eviction, but they must act reasonably. They are entitled to use necessary, reasonable force to enter the home. They can remove you (and anyone else living in the accommodation), and may also remove your possessions.
What about my belongings?
The bailiffs will only remove your furniture and belongings if this has been specified by the court. The bailiffs will usually ask you to remove your belongings and will watch while you do so. If you refuse your landlord may remove your belongings. Alternatively the belongings may be left locked inside and you must make arrangements to collect them later.
How can I complain about the bailiffs?
If you believe the bailiffs have acted unreasonably or beyond their powers you may be able to complain. Examples include:
- harassing you or other people in the property
- threatening arrest or imprisonment
- using offensive language
- causing damage to your belongings
- carrying out the eviction when only children are at home
- evicting vulnerable people without suitable arrangements having been made.
You may be able to complain to the Association of Civil Enforcement Agents.
If this is not successful, you can take the matter to court, but will probably need help from a solicitor or specialist adviser. Contact an adviser if you want to complain.
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.