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Eviction due to repossession

What happens to tenants when a property is foreclosed? Even if your lender has got a decree for repossession allowing them to sell your property, they cannot sell it with you in it. You can only be forced to move out if they also have a court order that says you have to leave the property. This is called a charge for removing.

How will I know that I have to leave?

If your property is foreclosed on you will usually receive a letter from your lender and/or the court asking you to leave your home before a certain time on a certain date - this is called a charge for removing. If you have not left before the specified time and date, sheriff officers can use reasonable force to remove you from the property.

What can the sheriff officers do?

If your lender has been granted a decree to remove you from the foreclosed property and the sheriff officers have served you a form of charge for removing. Then 14 days after receiving the form, if you haven't already left the property, you can be evicted.

There are restrictions as to when the sheriff officers can carry out the eviction. Evictions cannot take place on a Sunday, bank holiday or before 8 a.m or after 8 p.m. They are entitled to use necessary, reasonable force to enter the home and remove you and anyone else living in the accommodation.

What happens when the sheriff officers arrive?

The sheriff officers 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 lender or your lender's representative must be present at the eviction so that the sheriff officers can give them possession. When this has been done, the lender can change the locks to prevent you re-entering the accommodation.

The sheriff officers can ask the police to be present if they think you might try to stop them from getting in. The police are not allowed to help the sheriff officers with the eviction but are there in case there is any disturbance. The police can arrest anyone who behaves violently.

What about my belongings?

The sheriff officers will not remove any of your furniture or belongings unless this has been specified by the court. The sheriff officers will usually watch while you do so. If you refuse, the lender may remove your belongings. Alternatively the belongings may be left locked inside and you must make arrangements to collect them later. If the sheriff officers damage your belongings, you may be able to take them to court and claim compensation - speak to an adviser or a solicitor if this happens (see below).

What if I have a complaint about the sheriff officers?

If you believe the sheriff officers 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 can send your complaint in writing to the Sheriff Principal - call your local sheriff court for contact details. You could also make a complaint to the Society of Messengers-At-Arms and Sheriff Officers.

You will probably need help from a solicitor or specialist adviser if you want to complain about sheriff officers.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're in England

The important points

  • Even if your lender has a court order to sell your property they need another court order that says you need to leave the property, called a warrant of ejection.
  • Sheriff officers have the right to remove you from the property and secure it so you can't get back in.
  • If you are away when the sheriff officers arrive to evict you they will secure the property so you can't re-enter.
  • Sheriff officers are not allowed to remove your belongings or behave unreasonably. You can complain if you believe they have gone beyond their powers or their behaviour was unreasonable.

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