There With You: Advice to those who are in fear of being evicted
Lesley Burdett and James Bryan
- Credit: Kate Stanworth
Shelter Norfolk is a member of Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) which is a proud partner of EDP’s “There With You This Winter Campaign”. Lesley Burdett and James Bryan of Shelter Norfolk share their tips on what to do when your private landlord gives you notice to leave their property.
What is the biggest surprise for most tenants?
It’s probably a shock that your private landlord may be able to evict you without giving any reason. That’s even if you’ve been up to date with rent and have always been a good tenant.
There is never a good time for tenants to be given notice and many people are cash strapped after Christmas. We recommend you plan from the start of your tenancy to set aside funds for a rent deposit on your next property if you can, in case your current landlord withholds any part of your current deposit.
Can my landlord evict me if I haven’t done anything wrong?
Sometimes, yes they can. Notices issued under Section 21 of the Housing Act are “no-fault” notices, meaning the landlord doesn’t need to give a reason why they want to evict you.
Will they put the notice in writing?
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Most tenants should get written notice. But the format and wording depend on your tenancy. If you are a private tenant, you should be given a certain amount of time (two months if the landlord doesn’t have a reason to evict you) and the notice will come on a specific form. But if you are a lodger or guest and live with your landlord, they may be able to ask you to leave at any time without written notice.
What if I’m unsure about the type of tenancy I have?
Use Shelter’s tenancy checker tool (see Factbox below).
Do I have to leave my home on the date written on the notice?
If you don’t live with your landlord, no. Your landlord will have to take court action which can take several months. If you stay, your tenancy will continue as normal (and you’ll have to pay rent) until court bailiffs attend. But it’s important to know that you might have to pay costs if your landlord goes to court.
If your landlord insists that you leave before notice has expired it could be an illegal eviction. Shelter UK has a helpline for such emergency advice (see Factbox below).
After being served notice what should my next action be?
Speak to your local council. All councils have a duty to prevent homelessness, and they could take steps to keep you in your home or find somewhere else to live.
If you have to leave, try to make sure the property is in the same condition as when you moved in. Your landlord or agent should give you a list (the “inventory”) of furniture, appliances and the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. Being able to prove everything is present and correct may prevent disputes. Taking photographs at the start and end of the tenancy is a good idea too. If your landlord still delays returning any part of your rent deposit without good cause, check Shelter’s online advice guides.
As a tenant is there anything else I can do to prevent future evictions?
The 2019 Queen’s Speech said a Renters’ Reform Bill would be introduced to ‘enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing “no-fault” evictions’. This is currently being discussed. Shelter is campaigning to ensure it becomes law as the uncertainty of being at risk of eviction has a huge impact on the lives of millions of private renters, as well as undermining their ability to enforce their rights on issues such as rent increases and disrepair.
You can pledge your support by visiting: https://campaigns.shelter.org.uk/enough-enough-demand-better-renting-0
If you have been serviced notice and want to speak with an adviser, please call 0344 515 1564 Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Shelter Norfolk, 50-52 Fishergate, Norwich, NR3 1SE
Shelter UK’s tenancy checker tool is at https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/downloads_and_tools/tenancy_rights_checker
For other housing advice tips visit the Shelter UK website - https://campaigns.shelter.org.uk/enough-enough-demand-better-renting-0
Shelter UK Emergency Advice line 03301 755 121