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Stopping eviction for rent arrears

Your landlord must follow a strict legal process to evict you for rent arrears. They cannot force you to leave without an eviction order from a court or tribunal.

There are steps you can take to stop the eviction. If you show you’re making an effort to pay back the rent you owe, the court or tribunal may decide not to evict you.

Take steps to deal with your rent arrears

To avoid eviction, prioritise paying your rent over any other debts you have. Do not ignore any letters you get about your rent arrears.

Get debt advice as soon as possible. A debt advisor could help you:

  • check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to

  • make a budget and reduce your costs

  • work out how much you can afford to pay back each month

  • propose a repayment plan to your landlord

  • negotiate with your landlord and anyone else you owe money to

Check our advice on:

Write to your landlord

Tell your landlord that you want to deal with the arrears. Explain why you’ve fallen behind on rent and what steps you’re taking to improve your situation.

Keep copies of any emails or letters between you and your landlord.

Use this template to help you know what to say.

Template: contact your landlord about rent arrears

Copy and paste the text below and personalise it with your details.

Subject: taking steps to deal with my rent arrears

I’m writing to you about the rent that I owe.

I’ve experienced financial difficulties because <explain why you could not pay>.

I'm taking steps to improve my situation, including <example: applying for benefits / actively seeking work / getting debt advice>.

I intend to start paying back the arrears as soon as possible, and I will contact you about making repayments when I can.

Please respond in writing to confirm that you've received this letter.

Thank you,

<your name>

You can also send the letter as an email attachment or through the post:

Check your eviction rights

Your landlord cannot just tell you to leave. They must:

  • send you information and give you a chance to deal with the arrears

  • send you a valid eviction notice

  • get an eviction order from a court or tribunal

This applies when you rent from:

  • a private landlord or letting agent

  • a council or housing association

The eviction rules are different if you live with your landlord.

Before sending an eviction notice

Your landlord must follow certain steps, called pre-action requirements. They must:

  • give you clear information about the terms of your tenancy agreement, how much rent you owe, and your eviction rights

  • tell you where you can get advice about money and help with managing your debts

  • try to agree on a payment plan with you

Your landlord should not start eviction action before considering:

  • any action you’re taking which could help you pay off your arrears in a reasonable time

  • if you’re sticking to the terms of any agreed repayment plan

  • any changes to your circumstances that will affect your ability to make repayments

If you rent from a housing association, they should also make you aware of how your council can help.

Check if your eviction notice is valid

The rules for your eviction notice depend on your tenancy type.

If you have a private residential tenancy

You'll have a private residential tenancy if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent, and you moved in on or after 1 December 2017.

Your landlord can only use rent arrears as a ground for eviction if you’ve had any amount of rent arrears for at least 3 months in a row.

They must give you a legal document called a notice to leave. It should say which eviction ground they’re using and the date when they can apply to the tribunal.

Check what a notice to leave looks like

An eviction notice may not be valid if it does not look like this.

The notice period before your landlord can apply to the tribunal is 4 weeks.

If you have an assured or short assured tenancy

You can only have these tenancy types if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent, and you moved in before 1 December 2017.

Your landlord must give you 2 notices:

  • a notice to quit

  • either an AT6 form or a section 33 notice

If they use an AT6 form, it should tell you which eviction ground they're using. This can be:

  • ground 11 if you’ve repeatedly been late in paying your rent

  • ground 12 if you have any amount of rent unpaid

If you have a short assured tenancy, your landlord can use a section 33 notice to end your tenancy at the end of your fixed term. In this case, they do not need an eviction ground.

Check our advice on eviction from an assured or short assured tenancy.

If you rent from the council or a housing association

Your landlord must send you a notice of proceedings.

It should say which eviction ground they’re using and the date when they can apply to the sheriff court.

The notice period before your landlord can apply to the court is 4 weeks.

The tribunal or court process

You do not have to leave by the date on your eviction notice. Your landlord can only make you leave by getting an eviction order from a court or tribunal.

When deciding whether to grant an eviction order, the court or tribunal must look at all the evidence to:

  • check if your landlord followed the right process

  • check how much rent you owed when the notice was sent

  • consider any actions you’ve taken and your circumstances to decide if it’s reasonable to evict you

You will not be evicted immediately. The court or tribunal process can take several months.

It's free to go to the tribunal. Your landlord can only charge you for the rent you owe, and any reasonable fees for late rent payments.

The eviction ban has ended

There was a temporary eviction ban in Scotland, which ended on 31 March 2024.

If you’ve been sent a court or tribunal letter

Get legal advice from a solicitor as soon as possible. Ask them to represent you at the court or tribunal.

Solicitors charge for their work, but you could get legal aid to help with costs. Check our advice on getting legal aid or free legal advice.

If you cannot get a solicitor in time, you should still attend your court or tribunal date. You can ask for the case to be delayed so that you can get representation.

What the court or tribunal must consider

To decide if it’s reasonable to evict you, the court or tribunal must consider all the facts of your case, including:

  • how much rent you owe

  • why you got into rent arrears

  • actions you’ve taken to repay the arrears

  • changes to your circumstances, such as getting more benefits or starting a job

  • if you’ve agreed on a repayment plan

  • if you’ve stuck to any repayments you agreed

  • how long you’ve lived there and how being evicted would affect you

Showing that the eviction is not reasonable

You or your representative will have a chance to explain why it’s not reasonable to evict you. Give evidence, such as:

  • proof of why you fell behind on rent, such as losing your job or delays to benefits payments

  • any letters or emails you sent your landlord about repaying the arrears

  • bank statements or receipts to show repayments you’ve made

  • your budget if it shows you can afford to keep making the repayments

  • letters from your GP if you’re disabled or have health problems

  • letters from debt advisors, social workers or any other agencies that support you

If you rent privately, the tribunal should also ask your landlord for proof of their circumstances and why they think it's reasonable to evict you.

Get more advice on:

Check your housing options

If you rent privately but you cannot afford your rent, you could try to find a more affordable home by:

If you have rent arrears that add up to more than 1 month’s rent, you can be suspended from social housing lists, which means you will not be offered a social home.

The suspension should end if all of these apply:

  • you’ve agreed to a repayment plan with your landlord

  • you’ve been making the agreed payments for at least 3 months

  • you’re continuing to make payments

Get help from the council

Ask the council for homelessness help. They cannot refuse to help if you’re homeless or likely to become homeless in the next 2 months.

If an eviction order has been granted and you no longer have the right to stay in your home, you're legally homeless. This is even if you can stay with family or friends. You do not have to be living on the streets to be homeless.

Check our advice on making a homeless application.

If you’re not a British or Irish citizen

Your rights to homeless help could be different.

Check our advice on how your immigration status affects your housing options.

Last updated: 28 February 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England