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Eviction if you rent from the council or a housing association

Going to court for an eviction hearing

The council or housing association cannot evict you without a court order.

If you’re being taken to court, there can be several hearings. These can be weeks apart.

If you do not attend, it’s likely the eviction will be granted.

Check if the hearing is in person or by telephone conference call. Some courts are still operating remotely.

If you're not sure, contact your local sheriff court on the Scottish Courts website.

Getting legal representation

Get a solicitor to represent you in court.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland

Check our advice on getting legal help for free or at a lower cost.

If you cannot get a solicitor in time for your court date, go to your hearing anyway. Ask for more time to get legal representation.

Who'll be in court

  • the sheriff - they're the judge who'll hear the case and make a decision

  • sheriff clerks - they'll call out the case name and write down decisions the sheriff makes

  • a solicitor for the council or housing association

There can be other people whose eviction hearings are happening at the same time.

The court is public, so anyone can sit in the courtroom and watch.

There's no jury.

What to do when you arrive

Arrive at court before the time on your court summons.

Check which courtroom you’re in. Ask court staff if you’re not sure.

When you get to the courtroom, tell the sheriff clerk you’re there.

Wait for the sheriff clerk to call your name. Several cases can be taking place at the same time, so you might have to wait for your case to be heard.

When your name is called

Make yourself known to the sheriff.

They will tell you when to speak and make your case. They may ask you to move to a specific part of the room.

If you have a solicitor or representative, the sheriff will speak to them.

If you could not get a solicitor

If you cannot get a solicitor or a lay representative, go to court and ask for more time to find legal representation. Tell the sheriff why you could not get a solicitor.

Be prepared to make your case yourself if the sheriff refuses.

Representing yourself

Plan what you'll say before you go to your hearing. You can take written notes so you remember what to say.

The sheriff can ask you questions about what you say.

What to say if you’re representing yourself

Tell the sheriff that you want to keep your home. Explain what you’ve done or how you’ll remedy the problem.

If you have rent arrears

Explain the reason for the arrears.

Tell them what you’ve done to:

  • increase your income

  • get money and debt advice

  • get benefits or grants

  • agree and stick to a repayment plan

Tell them about any date you have for:

  • a benefits payment beginning

  • your first payment for a new job

  • any other income payment you’re expecting

If you’re being evicted for antisocial behaviour

Tell them what steps you’ll take to stop the behaviour.

Explain if your behaviour is a direct result of your disability or medical condition. The sheriff must take this into account.

Provide medical evidence such as a letter from your GP.

Say what will happen if you lose your home

In most cases, the sheriff has to decide if it’s reasonable to evict you.

Tell the sheriff why it’s not reasonable. Explain what impact losing your home would have.

This could be:

  • how your health or wellbeing will be affected

  • what difficulties you would have finding a new home

  • what impact eviction would have on your household, including your children

  • if you have experience of being homeless and how that affected you

Tell the sheriff about your health or disability

Tell the sheriff if you're disabled, or if you have a relevant medical condition.

Explain why this means you should keep your home. For example, tell them if you need the adaptations or ground floor access that your current home has.

The sheriff should take this into account.

Decisions that the sheriff can make

The sheriff can decide to:

  • continue the case

  • sist the case

  • dismiss the case

  • grant a decree for eviction

Continue the case

This means they’ll have another hearing at a future date. They will not make a final decision before that hearing.

This allows extra time if you need to:

  • get more evidence

  • get legal representation

  • make payments to clear or reduce rent arrears

  • wait for a benefit claim to be processed

The sheriff will tell you the date of the next hearing. Take a note of it.

Make sure your solicitor knows when the next hearing is. Keep in touch with them until then, so that they can represent you at future hearings.

Sist the case

This means they’re suspending the case. It can be called back at a later date.

A case can be suspended to see if you:

  • stick to a repayment plan for rent arrears

  • stop antisocial behaviour that has led to eviction hearing

If your case is sisted, make sure you know what to do to prevent a future eviction hearing.

You’ll get a letter telling you if there’s a future hearing.

Dismiss the case

This means you will not be evicted.

This can be done when:

  • the sheriff decides not to evict you

  • the council or housing association decides not to evict you

  • the council or housing association has not followed eviction procedures correctly

Grant a decree for eviction

This means an eviction order is granted.

The council or housing association can have you legally evicted.

You'll usually get 28 days after the decision date before you have to leave your home.

Last updated: 3 October 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England