Here you will find out all about eviction, what it is and how you can avoid it.
What does eviction mean?
Being an Estuary Housing Association resident means you are required to meet the conditions of your tenancy. Where you do not keep to the conditions of your tenancy, we will apply to the courts to repossess your home. If the court agrees then you and anyone living with you will have to leave your home. This is called eviction.
What can I be evicted for?
Where you have breached your tenancy, you will be served with a Notice Seeking Possession. If you do not improve or the breach is serious, we will proceed to court for a possession order. There are numerous reasons for an eviction, but the most usual are where:
- You don’t pay your rent
- Members of your family or visitors to your home act in an anti-social manner
- You use your home for illegal or immoral purposes
- A tenant is the perpetrator of domestic abuse (male or female)
- You lied on your housing application form to get your tenancy
- You have sublet your property and are not using it as your only or principal home
When you are told legal proceedings have started you should always seek independent legal advice from a solicitor, Citizens Advice Bureau or similar agency.
How will I know if Estuary is evicting me?
Before eviction proceedings start, we would have sent you letters and tried to contact you by visiting or telephoning you.
You will also have received a Notice of Seeking Possession or a Notice Requiring Possession. This notice is issued by us as the first stage of legal action and will explain our reasons for starting legal proceedings. At this stage it does not mean you have to leave your home. Depending on the reason for the notice you may be able to make an agreement with Estuary that would allow you to stay in your home.
Why is a Notice of Proceedings issued?
The notice is issued because you have failed to meet one or more of your tenancy conditions. The notice is the first stage of legal proceedings and will tell you the earliest date Estuary can apply to start court proceedings. We cannot evict you without a court order being granted.
What can I do to stop being evicted?
The moment you receive any form of Notice Seeking Possession, you should immediately contact the officer or team named on the letter to discuss the matter. At this stage it may be possible to stop further action being taken. However, once we have received a date for eviction, it is not normally possible to stop this unless the courts agree to suspend the eviction. This will however depend on the severity of the circumstances for the eviction.
If you believe you have good reason for trying to stop an eviction, you will need to contact the court immediately. You or an agency on your behalf will have to apply to court for the eviction to be suspended, which is called a 'stay'. You need to fill in a form explaining your circumstances and the reason you want the eviction stopped or delayed. You normally have to pay a court fee.
In order to stop an eviction you will be required to attend a hearing at court. The court will inform you and us of the time and date for the hearing.
At the hearing, the judge will listen to your reasons and may ask you further questions. A member of Estuary staff will also attend the hearing. We will give evidence of why the eviction should proceed or not. The judge will make a decision based on the law and facts of each individual case. An eviction is normally only stopped if there is a legal discrepancy or you have given sufficient evidence and reasons why you have not done something to stop the eviction earlier. Please note that just saying you will become homeless will not be sufficient reason.
If the judge does stop the eviction, this will be on terms and you will have to agree to these terms. Where the judge does not agree to stop the eviction, it will go ahead normally at the same time and date as you had been advised before. You will then need to remove all your possessions and find alternative accommodation.
Where you are facing homelessness due to eviction, you may be classed as intentionally homeless and not be able to join any Council or Housing Association waiting list. Given the seriousness of the situation, you should always seek independent advice from either a solicitor or an independent advice agency.
What if I receive a Court Summons?
You must act immediately and contact Estuary to discuss the situation if you have not already done so. At this stage it is even more important that you seek advice from either a solicitor or an organisation such as Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau. These organisations may also represent you at court. If you are on a low income, Legal Aid may be available to pay the costs of representation. Whether or not you are represented, you should always attend court personally.
Will I have to pay court costs?
Yes. Any court action results in Estuary incurring a fee and we will request any court order to include our court costs. For more serious cases we may employ a solicitor and/or barrister and in these incidences we may request an Order to cover these costs as well as the court fees. Where an order includes costs you will be responsible for repaying these costs.
What happens at an eviction?
The court will send you a copy of the order requiring you to leave and a date of eviction. Estuary will also send a letter and copy of the Court Order. How much notice you receive will vary.
Prior to the time of the eviction, you should arrange for yourself and all members of your household to vacate the property. In addition you should also arrange for all your belongings to be removed. A court bailiff will attend on the day of the eviction along with Estuary staff. If you have not moved out prior to this, then you will be asked to leave. Once the eviction has taken place, the locks will be changed and you cannot return to the property. Where you leave your possessions, you will have to make arrangements with us to have access to the property so they can be removed. You may be liable for storage costs if any household items or personal possessions are left in the property. Where we remove them, these will be disposed of and the costs of removal will be recharged to you. You must make arrangements with us to collect any possessions within 5 working days following the eviction. Where you do not contact us, all items which are left behind will be disposed.
What happens after an eviction?
If you are evicted for rent arrears or antisocial behaviour, this will affect your chances of being rehoused by your local council or other Housing Associations. Your local council provides housing advice and you will need to contact them for advice and assistance. If you are evicted for rent arrears, you will still be required to repay this debt. If you do not make arrangement with us to repay rent arrears, we may employ debt collectors to act on our behalf. Any court order may also affect your ability to get credit cards, bank loans or a mortgage in the future.