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Challenging your eviction

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You'll need to make sure your landlord is trying to evict you legally before you can challenge an eviction.

Your landlord needs to give you a 'Notice to Quit'. Your landlord can't try to evict you without giving you a Notice to Quit - if they do, the eviction won't be legal and you'll be able to stay in your home.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if your landlord is forcing you to leave, for example by changing the locks or cutting off the electricity.

Check you've been given the right notice period

You must be given a certain amount of notice by your landlord, depending on how long you've lived in your home.

How long you've lived in your home How much notice you should get
Less than 5 years At least 4 weeks’ notice
More than 5 years but less than 10 years At least 8 weeks’ notice
More than 10 years At least 12 weeks’ notice

If your landlord hasn't given you the right amount of notice, you might be able to challenge your eviction and stay in your home.

Check what type of tenancy you have

You should check what type of tenancy you have - this will affect if your landlord can evict you, and how they can do it.

If you have a fixed term tenancy

If you've not reached the end of your tenancy term, your landlord can only evict you if you've broken the terms of your tenancy agreement. For example, if you don't pay your agreed rent or you're involved in antisocial behaviour.

If you have a periodic tenancy

Your landlord can give you a Notice to Quit at any time if you have a periodic tenancy (also known as a 'rolling tenancy'). They'll still have to give you the correct amount of notice.

You can contact specialist housing support charity Housing Rights for help challenging an eviction.

Check you have a reason challenge

You can challenge a Notice to Quit if, for example, you:

  • have been given the wrong amount of notice
  • have evidence that your landlord's reasons for evicting you are wrong, for example if they're saying you've caused damage that you haven't done

Talk to your landlord

You should contact your landlord and tell them why you think you should stay in your home. It's best to write to your landlord directly. Keep a copy of the letter - you might need to use it as evidence later, for example if you need to go to court.

Even if you have a valid Notice to Quit you could still try to delay the date you'll need to leave your home. You should speak to your landlord directly if you feel comfortable. You might be able to agree to stay in your home until you've found somewhere else to live.

If your landlord doesn't reply or disagrees, contact your local council's Environmental Health Department. They deal with illegal evictions and can help you negotiate with your landlord. They can also take your landlord to court if necessary. Find details of your local council on GOV.UK.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help negotiating with your landlord.

If your landlord goes to court

If you don't leave your home by the date on your Notice to Quit, your landlord can apply to the court for a possession order to make you leave your home. You'll have the chance to defend your case in court - this is known as a possession hearing.

Once your landlord has got a possession order, the court will decide if you have to leave your home.

If you have a possession hearing

You'll usually be sent a letter with a date for a possession hearing. A possession hearing is your chance to put forward your case in court and give reasons why you shouldn't be evicted.

You don't have to go to a possession hearing - but you should go if you want to present your case in court. You'll also be able to give any evidence showing that you should stay in your home, for example if your landlord didn't give you the right amount of notice.

Preparing for the possession hearing

You'll be sent a court summons telling you when and where the court hearing is.
You'll be able to take someone with you for support, for example a friend or family member.

You can also get a lawyer to represent you in court. Find out if you can get legal aid to cover the cost on nidirect - paying for it yourself can be expensive.

Prepare notes of what you want to say at the hearing. Take any evidence you have, for example a copy of your tenancy agreement or a letter from your GP if you couldn't pay your rent because you were ill and unable to work.

The judge will decide whether or not you have to leave and how soon. You can get more information on what happens at a possession hearing on the Housing Rights website.

Getting a decision from court

You'll be told at the possession hearing if you can stay in your home or if you'll have to leave.

If you have to leave your home

You'll be sent a notice from the court telling you when you need to leave. This is called an 'outright possession order'.

You can appeal against the decision of the possession order - but only if you can prove that mistakes were made in the possession hearing.

If you've not left by the date in the possession order, your landlord will apply to ask the Enforcement of Judgements office (EJO) to make you leave. It's a good idea to move out before this date if you can. If you don't, you might have to pay legal costs - and they can be expensive.

The EJO are the only people who can remove you and your belongings from your home.

If you can stay in your home

If the court accepts your defence, they could decide to:

  • let you stay in your home as long as you meet certain conditions, for example paying rent you owe and any arrears - this is called a suspended possession order
  • dismiss your landlord's case - this means you'll stay in your home without any conditions
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