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Being evicted from a council house

These are the legal eviction procedures that councils, housing associations and housing co-ops must use to evict tenants. However, if your landlord thinks that you no longer live in the property they do not always have to follow eviction proceedings to take the property back. They could also take abandonment proceedings, which are different to the eviction process.

The eviction process - how does it work?

The eviction process follows these steps:

  • you and anyone living in your house who is over 16 will be sent a notice of proceedings
  • your landlord will start legal proceedings and you will be sent a summons telling you when your case will be heard at court
  • your case will come to court
  • the sheriff grants a decree for eviction
  • sheriff officers will be sent round to remove you from the property.

Remember:

What is a notice of proceedings?

A notice of proceedings is a legal document which starts the eviction process.

It should tell you:

  • that your landlord intends to get an order (decree for eviction) from the sheriff court for you to leave the property
  • the earliest date that the landlord can contact the court to request a court date (this must be at least four weeks away)
  • the reason(s) or ground(s) that your landlord has for wanting to evict you.

If your landlord wants to evict you because of rent arrears then the notice should also state how your landlord has complied with the pre-action requirements. See eviction because of rent arrears for more information.

A notice of proceedings is valid for six months. If your landlord has not started legal proceedings (ie asked for a court date) within six months of the date stated on the notice, they will have to start the process again by sending you another notice of proceedings.

Who will the notice of proceedings be sent to?

A notice of proceedings must be sent to each person living in your house who is over the age of 16. Everyone in the house, over 16, is called a qualifying occupier. Your landlord must try their best to find out if there are any qualifying occupiers in your household. If they fail to do this, it means that they have not followed the proper eviction procedures and the sheriff might make them start again.

What should I do if I get a notice of proceedings?

Don't ignore it! Contact your landlord to find out why they have sent it.

The landlord must have a reason or ground for sending you a notice of proceedings. Once you know what the ground is, you may be able to do something to stop your case going to court. For example:

  • If you have rent arrears, you could come to an arrangement to clear them.
  • If you are waiting for housing benefit, you could provide proof, such as a receipt for handing in your claim form.
  • If there have been incidents of antisocial behaviour, you can promise that it will not happen again.

See the pages on preventing eviction and dealing with rent arrears for more information.

Remember that if you break an agreement, your landlord will be able to ask for a court date at any time within six months of the date on the notice of proceedings.

In some cases, your landlord can only evict you from your home if they can offer you somewhere else to live of a similar standard. You can find out more about this on the page about grounds for eviction.

What is a summons?

A summons is a letter from the sheriff court to tell you that your landlord has asked for a court order for you to be evicted. Before a court order can be granted, your case must be heard at the sheriff court.

The summons should include the date of the court hearing, which should be at least three weeks away. It usually takes at least seven weeks from the notice of proceedings being served to the case calling at court.

You can find out more about the summons.

Going to court

If you can't sort things out with your landlord, you will have to go to court. You have a right to defend yourself against the eviction at court, and anyone living with you has a right to apply to the court to take part in the court proceedings as well. Their situations should also be taken into account when your case is being decided.

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The important points

  • Your landlord must have a court order if they want to evict you.
  • The first stage of eviction is your landlord sending you a notice of proceedings and will be sent to anyone who is over 16 and living in the property.
  • If your landlord thinks you are no longer living in the property they do not always need to follow eviction proceedings.

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