Eviction by sheriff officers

Tenants can only be evicted if their landlord gets an eviction order from a court or tribunal. Once they have this, your landlord still doesn't have the right to make you leave, they need to ask sheriff officers to evict you.

Winter 'eviction ban'

The Scottish Government brought in new rules which ban eviction enforcement action for a short period of time.

The ban is currently in force in all Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas.

The Scottish Government have a postcode checker to use if you're not sure what Tier your area is in.

  • the ban covers both social rented and private rented sector tenancies

  • this ban is reviewed by the Scottish Government every 21 days

  • the ban only applies to the ‘enforcement’ part of eviction proceedings. It means sheriff officers can't remove a household from a property while the ban is in place.

There are some exceptions to the ban. For example, if the eviction was granted due to criminal or antisocial behaviour, then the eviction may still go ahead.

What about other parts of eviction proceedings?

  • Eviction hearings at court or tribunal can still go ahead

  • Eviction orders can still be granted by courts and tribunals

  • Landlords can still serve notice on tenants.

What can the sheriff officers do?

Sheriff officers can evict you if your landlord has a possession order from the court or tribunal and the date on it has passed. Your landlord can only ask the sheriff officers to come if you haven't left after this date.

Sheriff officers must act reasonably. They are entitled to use necessary, reasonable force to enter the home and remove:

  • you

  • anyone else living in the accommodation

  • your possessions.

When or what time can sheriff officers come to evict?

Sheriff officers can generally enforce eviction orders between 8 am and 8 pm however they may be able to come in the middle of the night if given special permission from a court order. They may also be able to come in the middle of the night if it is to secure someone's safety

How will I know when the sheriff officers are coming?

Your landlord should send you a letter telling you when the eviction date is. This is called a 'Form of Charge for Removing' and must be served on you by a sheriff officer. This letter will normally give you 14 days to leave the property.

If you don't leave the property by the eviction date, the sheriff officers will write to you to inform you of the date and time they will arrive. They should give you at least 48 hours' notice.

What should I do when I get a letter from the sheriff officers?

If you are unable to move out of your home, get advice as soon as you receive a notice of eviction. An adviser can tell you:

  • whether you might be able to stop or delay the eviction

  • what your other housing options are.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Can I stop or delay the sheriff officers?

You may be able to stop or delay your eviction by the sheriff officers if you did not appear at the court or tribunal and no one else was there on your behalf when the eviction order was granted. You will need to act immediately and it would be best if you could get advice beforehand. Find out more about challenging the court or tribunal decision here.

What happens when the sheriff officers arrive?

The sheriff officers will remove you from the property. After you have left, or been removed, the sheriff officers will change the locks and secure the property, so you can't get back in. If you are not there when the eviction takes place, the sheriff officers will change the locks and secure the property. Your landlord or your landlord's representative must be present at the eviction so that the sheriff officers can give them possession. When this has been done your landlord can change the locks to prevent you from 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 is violent.

What about my belongings?

The sheriff officers will not usually remove any of your furniture or belongings - it's up to you to do this. Once you've been removed from the property and your landlord has taken possession, it's up to them to decide what to do with your belongings. If you can't remove your things before you have to leave, you'll need to arrange a time with your landlord to pick them up later.

The landlord has no duty to look after the property on your behalf. If there is a break-in at the house after the eviction and your property is stolen, you cannot seek compensation from the landlord.

If you do not collect the property, the landlord may try to contact you to make arrangements for you to pick it up. However, if you do not contact them, or they do not know your whereabouts, they may just dispose of your property, because they have to clear the house before they let it to someone else. To avoid hassle, it's best to take your things with you when you leave or arrange to remove them as quickly as you can.

How can I complain 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. Get advice if you want to complain about sheriff officers.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 9 March 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England

Homeless help tool

Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?

Use our tool to find out how to apply for help from your local council

Start help tool