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The summons

You'll be sent a summons if your landlord has asked for a court order for your eviction. Find out what to expect in the document and what you should do if you receive a summons from the sheriff court.

What is a summons?

If your landlord is taking legal action against you because you owe them money or because they want to evict you, the first document that you will receive from the court will say Summary Cause Summons at the top.

What should I do if I receive a summons?

Do not ignore it! If you don't do anything, you may be evicted. If possible, seek legal advice immediately.

Contact your landlord to see if there is anything you can do to avoid the case going to court. For example, if you owe the landlord money, you may be able to pay this back in a lump sum or you may be able to come to an agreement about paying the debt off in instalments.

If your landlord says that the case will be going to court, you must let the court know in writing why you think you should not be evicted, or why you want the eviction stopped. This is called replying to the summons.

Replying to the summons

If possible get advice from Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444, a local advice agency or solicitor if you intend to reply to a summons. If you do not respond to the summons, or do not reply properly, it's likely an order will be granted for your eviction if you don't subsequently attend court on the calling date.

You will find instructions about how to reply to the summons on pages three and four of the summons itself. You will also find a guide to replying to the summons on the Sheriff Court website.

What is in the summons?

The summons comes on a special form, which will contain:

  • your name and address
  • your landlord's name and address
  • the name and address of your landlord's solicitors
  • the claim - form of decree or other order sought
  • the return date - the date you must reply to the court by if you do not want to be evicted or you want the eviction delayed
  • the calling date - the date your case will be heard in court
  • the reply section - the section for you to write in if you want to reply to the court.

You can see what a Summary Cause Summons looks like here:

  • Summary Cause Form 1a - this is used when the court action includes a claim for payment of a sum of money, for example, if your landlord is claiming rent arrears as well as asking for an eviction order
  • Summary Cause Form 1c - this is used when the court action doesn't include a claim for payment of a sum of money, for example, if your landlord is only applying for an eviction order.

The claim

The claim is the section where your landlord will write what kind of court order they are looking for and the reason why. If the landlord wants you to be evicted they will ask for a possession order and state the reason why, for example, rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.

Return date

The return date is the date that you should reply to the court by if you do not want to be evicted.

If you do not agree with the reasons for your landlord taking you to court or you do not want to be evicted, you should reply to the court by the return date.

If the return date has passed and you have not replied, it will still be possible for you to go to court on the calling date to explain to the sheriff why you shouldn't be evicted. Get advice about your options from Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444 and contact the sheriff court.

Calling date

This is the date and time when your case will be heard in court. It's very important that you appear personally on this date. If your landlord is asking for you to be evicted and you do not appear in court, or someone else does not go on your behalf, the sheriff is more likely to grant an order for your eviction.

Do I have to go to court?

You don't have to appear at court if you really don't want to. You won't be arrested if you don't turn up. However, if you don't turn up to defend your case, it's likely that the sheriff will grant an order for your eviction, so it's important that you get someone to represent you. The page on getting help at court has more information.

Help and advice if you've received a summons

If you receive a summons, get advice from Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444 or Citizens Advice. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.

An adviser may be able to assist you by:

  • explaining your rights
  • negotiating with your landlord
  • helping you reply to the summons
  • putting you in touch with someone who can help you prepare for or represent you in court.

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The important points

  • If you receive a summons, do not ignore it, if you do you may end up being evicted.
  • In the summons your landlord will state the reason why they are seeking to evict you, this is called the claim.
  • If the case is going to court, you must put in writing why you think you shouldn't be evicted, this should be done by the return date.
  • The calling date is the date and time your case will be heard in court.
  • If you receive a summons seek legal advice as soon as possible.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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