Preparing for your eviction hearing
Coronavirus - if your landlord goes to court to evict you
Your landlord has to follow coronavirus guidelines and rules if they want to evict you – check if your landlord has followed the rules.
You should talk to an adviser as soon as possible if:
- you get letters or paperwork from the court
bailiffs try to evict you
If your landlord started court action against you before 3 August 2020, they have to send you a letter before they can continue with their court claim. This letter is called a ‘reactivation notice’ – you can check what to do if you get a reactivation notice.
If your landlord started the claim after 3 August 2020, talk to an adviser.
The eviction process is different if your landlord is using the accelerated procedure – check if it says ‘accelerated procedure’ at the top of the claim form.
If your landlord is using the accelerated procedure, the court might give you a date to go to court – this is called a ‘possession hearing’.
If your landlord isn’t using the accelerated procedure, the court will tell you when it will look at the case for the first time - this is called the 'review date'. You can find the review date in the ‘notice of review’. The court will send you the notice of review either:
- at the same time as the claim form
- after it gets your defence
If the court sends you a notice of review
Your landlord should send you a copy of all the documents the court will look at – this is called the ‘bundle’. If you haven’t got the bundle 2 weeks before the review date, tell the court – you can find the contact details of the court on GOV.UK.
You can talk to a free legal adviser on the review date – they’re called the ‘duty adviser’. Before the review date, read the letters from the court and make sure you know how to contact the duty adviser on the review date.
Check what happens on the review date
You don’t need to go to court – but you should make sure you can talk on the phone.
It’s worth talking to the duty adviser even if you’ve already got advice. They can talk to your landlord for you. They might be able to get your landlord to agree to pause or stop the eviction.
If you and your landlord can’t agree, the court will look at all the documents. If there’s a problem with your landlord’s documents, the court might pause or stop the eviction.
If there’s no problem with the documents, the court will decide when to have a court hearing – this is called the ‘possession hearing’. The possession hearing will be at least 4 weeks after the review date.
Preparing for your possession hearing
The court will tell you when your hearing is and where you need to go for it.
The court will use the hearing to decide if you need to leave your home. They’ll give your landlord a ‘possession order’ if you need to leave - this means your landlord can evict you.
It’s really important that you go to your court hearing - even if you haven’t sent your defence form. It’s your chance to explain to the court why you should be allowed to stay in your home. Even if you have to leave, they might let you stay in your home for longer.
If you've sent your defence form and you don't go to the hearing, the court could just rely on the evidence your landlord has given them.
If you can’t go to the possession hearing, tell the court as soon as possible. Explain why you can’t go – for example because you have to self-isolate. The court might:
- arrange for the hearing to happen by phone or video call
- change the date of the hearing
If you’re using discrimination as part of your defence, make sure you gather your evidence before you go to court.
If the court decides you have to leave, you’ll usually have 14 days before you need to move out.
If you’re an introductory or demoted council tenant, the court is unlikely to let you stay in your home if your landlord has followed the correct process.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re going to be evicted or you’re worried about going to court. An adviser might be able to help you build your case or find you free legal help.
Getting legal help
You can get a lawyer to represent you. If you’ve got no income or a low income, you might be able to get legal aid to help you cover the cost. Find out if you can get help with legal costs on GOV.UK.
On the day of the hearing, you’ll also be able to talk to the duty adviser – it doesn’t matter how much income you have. Before the date of the possession hearing, read the letters from the court and make sure you know how to contact the duty adviser.
If you can’t contact the duty adviser on the day of the hearing, tell the usher or the judge before the hearing starts – the judge might agree to delay the hearing.
Talk to an adviser to find out what legal advice you can get.