You're facing eviction
If you are a student and renting accommodation owned by or rented out directly to you by the university or college the problems you may have are likely to be different and the rules about how to solve them are also different. For more information see Student Housing.
Before you take any steps to move out
In most cases it's not enough for a landlord to verbally ask you to leave or even send you a letter saying you have to move out by a certain date.
Depending on the type of tenancy you have there's a set legal process they have to go through, including:
- giving you an eviction notice in a way set out in law
- applying to the sheriff court or the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland for an eviction order, and notifying you they're doing this
- attending a court or tribunal hearing to ask for an eviction order.
It's likely you'll have opportunities to challenge your eviction but if you move out, you might be seen as abandoning your tenancy and you could lose any chance you had to challenge the eviction.
Even if they get an eviction order, it's not too late to get advice. You don't have to leave voluntarily until the date on the order. If you stay past that date, the landlord has to apply again to the court or tribunal for permission to use sheriff officers to evict you. You will then be told that date on a final eviction notice.
You should try to find someone to help you. This might be a solicitor or a trained adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you want to get a solicitor, check if you can get help with legal costs.
If the landlord has changed the locks, refuses rent or cuts off utilities
If the landlord is trying to make you move out by making it impossible for you to live in the property, this could be illegal eviction. For example, if they:
- change the locks
- cut off your electricity or gas
- refuse to accept rent payments
- threaten or harass you.
You could apply for an order to reinstate you in your home or claim damages at court. You should get help from a specialist adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you've got nowhere to stay you may also be able to make a homeless application to the council.
Check your tenancy type
The type of tenancy you have will determine:
- the process the landlord has to use legally to evict you
- whether or not you can challenge your eviction
- what arguments you might have under housing law to challenge you eviction, if that's possible
- whether you defend it in the sheriff court or First-tier Tribunal.
Your tenancy agreement will usually state the tenancy type but bear in mind this might not be correct.
If you rent from a council or housing association (public sector landlords), you will normally have a Scottish secure tenancy or sometimes a short Scottish secure tenancy. Check types of public tenancies.
If you rent from an individual or through a letting agent, you're a private tenant. Check types of private tenancies.
In some cases if you rent a property with a Mid Market rent you will be renting from a private company that has been created by a housing association. This should be clear in your tenancy agreement. This means that you are a private sector tenant and not a public sector tenant. Check types of private tenancies.
You can also use the tenancy checker tool on the Shelter Scotland website and/or get help from an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau to determine what kind of tenancy you have.
Negotiating with your landlord
Even if you've got a Notice to Leave your landlord doesn't have to continue with the eviction process. You could try to negotiate with your landlord to stop them going to court or tribunal. You might be able to reach an agreement with them.
What action you can take will depend on why you're being evicted, for example:
- if you're in rent arrears - try to agree a repayment plan
- if you're being evicted because guests are antisocial you could agree not to have them visit you any longer
- if you've damaged the property beyond normal wear and tear you could agree to make repairs.
Make sure you’ll be able to keep to your side of the agreement. If you don’t do what you’ve agreed your landlord could start the eviction process again.
If you make an agreement, you can stop the legal process - this is called settling. The court or tribunal might encourage you to try to settle through mediation.
If you agree a settlement, get it in writing in a letter or email - you’ll then have a record in case they change their minds.
If negotiating fails but the landlord hasn't started court or tribunal action yet
If negotiating doesn't work but the landlord hasn't applied to the court or tribunal for an eviction order yet, you should write a letter to your landlord asking them to stop the eviction process. Say you’re willing to challenge the eviction in court if they continue with it.
Your letter should also include:
- your name and address
- that you want them to stop the eviction process
- reasons that you’re challenging the eviction- see examples below
- details of any evidence you have, for example a witness that you weren't being antisocial
- that you want a reply within 14 days - if the notice will expire before then, ask your landlord to delay the eviction process until you’ve had a chance to consider their reply.
Keep a copy of the letter and ask the Post Office for free proof of postage - you might need to prove when you sent your letter.
The landlord might agree not to go ahead with court or tribunal action or they might just let the notice lapse.
If negotiation doesn't work you may need to defend your eviction in the court or tribunal. Depending on your tenancy type there are some key arguments that you may be able to use to challenge your eviction:
- the landlord hasn't used the correct eviction procedure for your tenancy type
- the reasons (grounds) the landlord is using to evict you aren't valid
- the eviction isn't reasonable (the landlord could have taken another action than evicting you)
- you're being discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010 because of a protected characteristic you have, such as a disability.
If you've got a summons from court or a notice from the First-tier Tribunal
If you've got a summons from the sheriff court
If you’re a Scottish secure tenant the council or a housing association needs to go to the sheriff court under Summary Cause to evict you. These are called “possession proceedings.” Read the guidance notes for Summary Cause on the Scottish Courts Website.
You’ll get a summons by post or delivered by a sheriff officer directing you to attend a hearing at the sheriff court.
The summons will state:
the time of the court hearing
the date of the hearing
the place of the hearing
the grounds on which the landlord is evicting you
if the landlord is asking for an order to get you to pay rent you owe.
You don’t have to reply to the summons because all eviction cases have to come to court. You can choose not to reply and argue your case in person instead. But it might be better to reply to the summons because you can set out your arguments against the eviction in a structured way. There’s guidance about your options for responding to a summons on the Scottish Courts website.
If you’re in rent arrears, and the summons says your landlord is asking the court to order you to pay the rent you owe, there may be a special form with the summons asking the court to give you time to pay. It’s important to get advice about whether you want to fill in this form or not. It might not be the best thing to do because you’re admitting to owing the debt.
If you get a notice from the First-tier Tribunal
If you’re a private tenant the landlord needs to get a possession order from the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland before they can make you leave your home. You’ll get a notice that they’ve applied to the tribunal and have the chance to reply within 14 days.
Replying to the tribunal
You’ll have to build your arguments to challenge the eviction and write to the tribunal setting these out. If you need help, speak to an adviser, for example at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
You usually have 14 days to reply to the tribunal but you could ask for more time to gather evidence. The tribunal doesn’t have to grant this. Say why you disagree with the eviction and give as much detail as you can.
If you've been given a date to appear at a hearing in the sheriff court or the First-tier Tribunal you must prepare to go. If you don't, the court may grant the landlord an eviction order because it thinks you don't want to challenge it.
You don't have to go alone - a adviser from a Citizens Advice Bureau can help you prepare your case and may even be able to represent you. Contact your local bureau as soon as possible.
Read about what happens if you're a public sector tenant taken to court for rent arrears or a private sector tenant taken to tribunal for rent arrears.
If you've already got an eviction order from the court or tribunal
If the landlord has already got an eviction order, you do not have to leave until after the date on the order. Once that date has passed, the landlord must again apply to the court or tribunal for permission to use sheriff officers to evict you. You will then be told that date on a final eviction notice.
The landlord may try to force you to leave the accommodation without an eviction order, for example by changing the locks or making it very difficult to continue living there through intimidation. This is illegal eviction and you must get specialist advice as soon as possible, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
If the landlord has been granted an eviction because you didn’t go to a hearing
If you or the landlord didn’t attend the hearing, and an adviser or lawyer wasn’t there in your place, it’s possible to apply to have the decision recalled. This means that the First-tier Tribunal or the court will consider the case again.
If you want to do this you need to act quickly. You have to apply to the tribunal for a recall in writing within 14 days of the tribunal’s decision and include a statement about why it’s in the interests of justice for the decision to be recalled. For the sheriff court the deadlines are more complex but 14 days is a good rule of thumb. Contact an adviser or lawyer as soon as possible.
You should also get advice about other housing options you have. You might be able to make a homelessness application to the council if you’re at risk of becoming legally homeless, depending on your circumstances. An adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you to make an application.