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You're facing eviction

This advice applies to Scotland

Coronavirus - evictions

The Scottish government has increased the minimum notice period for evictions. This means that if you’re behind with your rent, your landlord can't evict you unless they give you six months’ notice. Read more about what to do if you can’t pay your rent because of coronavirus.

You can get the latest information about evictions on the Shelter Scotland website.  

There’s advice about attending a court or tribunal on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website

If you're at risk of eviction there's usually action you can take, depending on your tenancy type. The following steps are designed to help people whose eviction cases haven't come to court or tribunal yet to identify whether they can challenge it and how. 

If you're a student facing eviction

If you're 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.

The eviction process

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.

The legal process the landlord normally has to go through, depending on your tenancy type, includes:

  • notice - the landlord has to tell you they're starting eviction proceedings by sending you notice in the correct format and giving you the correct length of time before it starts
  • grounds - the landlord has to use reasons the law allows for eviction, it can't just be because they don't like you 
  • an eviction or possession order - the landlord has to get an eviction order from the sheriff court or First Tier Tribunal. 

They can't take action like changing the locks, refusing rent or cutting off your gas, electricity or internet. This is illegal eviction.

Get advice about your options before you move out

It's important to get advice about your options before you move out. It's much easier to take certain action if you're actively living in the home. While moving out might be the best option for some people, for others it could mean:

  • being considered to have abandoned the tenancy 
  • harming your prospects of challenging the eviction
  • a successful homelessness application for permanent housing with the council is less likely. 

An adviser can discuss your circumstances and help you decide what action to take, for example to:

You can get advice from a trained adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Some specialist advisers can represent people in eviction actions in court or tribunal.

Alternatively you could get a solicitor to represent you in court or tribunal. If you want to get a solicitor, check if you can get help with legal costs. It's best to find a solicitor who specialises in housing and if you're using legal aid they'll need to accept legal aid work. Read about finding a solicitor

Taking action to challenge the eviction

What action you should take depends on what stage in the eviction process your case is. Check any paperwork you've received from the landlord or court or tribunal. If you have a summons from the sheriff court or a 

If the landlord has changed the locks, refuses rent or cuts off utilities

If the landlord is trying to make you move out before the date on an eviction order or without having followed the correct legal process 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 advice from a specialist housing 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. You can make a homeless application if you're at risk of becoming homeless within 2 months. 

If the landlord already has an eviction or possession order

Even if they already have an eviction order, you don't have to leave until the date on the order but you need to act quickly. 

If you’re a private tenant and you stay past the date on the order, 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.

Your options might include:

  • appealing the eviction - there are strict time limits and you need legal reasons to do it
  • applying to have the order recalled - this might be possible if the order was granted because you didn't defend it at a hearing but there are strict time limits 
  • finding somewhere else to live
  • making a homeless application to the council for housing - you can make an application if you're at risk of becoming homeless within 2 months

Get advice as soon as possible to ensure you're not blocked from some options because you've missed a deadline. For example, you have to apply to have an eviction order recalled in the first tier tribunal within 14 days of the tribunal's decision. 

If you decide to find somewhere else to live, an adviser can support you to make changes to help you stay in your future home. For example, ensuring you're getting all the income you're entitled to if difficulty budgeting meant you got into rent arrears. 

The following steps are designed for people whose cases haven't come to court or tribunal yet. Instead of following this you should get advice from about what to do next.

If you've had a Notice but the landlord hasn’t started court or tribunal action yet

If you've had a Notice to Leave, Notice to Quit or Notice of proceedings for recovery of possession but haven't yet got a notice from the court or tribunal that the landlord is applying for an eviction order, you shouldn’t move out straight away. They still need to go to court or tribunal to evict you after the notice period has passed. But they don't have to do this and you might be able to persuade them not to. 

You should act quickly as you may be able to stop your landlord from pursuing the eviction further. 

You could:

  • Negotiate with your landlord

  • Try mediation

Negotiate with your landlord to reach an agreement

You could try to make an agreement with your landlord by suggesting an alternative to eviction or setting out your arguments against the eviction. This might persuade them not to go ahead with it. If they do go ahead with it, it will show that you've tried to solve the problem reasonably before challenging it in court or tribunal.

If you make an agreement to stop the legal process this is called settling.

What action you suggest will depend on why you're being evicted (the grounds of eviction) and whether you have any evidence to argue against their claims. 

For example:

  • if you're in rent arrears - you could 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 or perhaps you have evidence that it wasn't people connected with you or it was beyond your control
  • if you've damaged the property beyond normal wear and tear you could agree to make repairs

For some grounds of eviction negotiation might be more difficult or not possible. For example, if the landlord wants to evict you to sell the property or live in it themselves. You can still try to persuade them not to go ahead but you should also check whether you can challenge it in court or tribunal. 

You might not feel comfortable negotiating or it might not be the best course of action.  Speak to an adviser if you're unsure.

It's best to negotiate in writing so you have evidence to show a court or tribunal later if you need to. Write a letter to your landlord asking them to stop the eviction process. 

The letter should include:

  • your name, address and the date

  • a statement that you'd like them not to take further action to evict you and any particular reasons why you want to stay in the property
  • what you're suggesting to solve the problem, such as repairing the property or a repayment plan for your rent arrears
  • that you would like a reply in writing within 14 days - if the notice will expire before then, ask your landlord to delay the eviction process until you’ve had chance to consider their reply

Make sure you only suggest action that you're capable of. For example, don't offer to repay an amount of rent that you can't afford. If you don’t do what you’ve agreed your landlord could start the eviction process again.

Keep a copy of the letter and ask the Post Office for free proof of postage - you might need to prove when you sent it. 

Example 

This example may not be appropriate for your circumstances.

Date: 9th January 2019

RE Notice to Leave, 56 Home Street 

Dear Ms Blain, 

I'm writing in response to your Notice to Leave dated 7th January 2019 that says you want to bring my Private Residential Tenancy to an end because I am in rent arrears to the sum of £500. This is for the 3-month period October-December 2018. My rent is £600 a month.

I would like to stay in the flat, in particular because it is close to my family. My mother is elderly and it's important that I'm close by to care for her. I'm requesting that you stop eviction action against me and allow my . 

I suggest a plan for the repayment of the rent arrears. I have spoken to an adviser at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and have worked out a budget that I can afford. I can repay £100 a month on top of my rent for the next 5 months. 

I hope that you find this repayment plan acceptable. Please reply in writing within 14 days. You can email me on jamie.sargent71@gmail.com. 

Yours Sincerely, 

Jamie Sargent

 If they reply to say they're happy with your suggestion and agree to stop the eviction, you should send another letter confirming the agreement and make the arrangements to keep to the agreement. For example, you could set up a standing order to 

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.

Try mediation

If you still can’t sort out your problem, you could ask a mediator to help. This is a person who doesn’t know either side and who’s trained to help people resolve disagreements.

You might have to pay for a mediator.

Check your local council’s website to see if they can help you find a mediator - they might help even if you’re not a council tenant. You can find your local council on GOV.UK

If you still need help, you can look for a mediator on the Scottish Mediation website.

If it's close to 6 months since you had a Notice to Leave

For private residential tenancies, the Notice to Leave is only valid for 6 months. They must apply to the tribunal after the notice period has passed (either 28 or 84 days) but within 6 months. If they run out of time they must start the process again and serve you with another notice to leave. 

If negotiating failed but the landlord hasn't started court or tribunal action yet

If you've been sent a notice by the landlord, and even if negotiating has failed, this doesn't mean you have to leave the accommodation.

After the appropriate notice period has passed, the landlord must apply to the First-tier Tribunal or sheriff court for an order to evict you. It's up to the court or tribunal to decide whether you should leave, having considered both the landlord's case and your defence. 

If negotiating doesn't work but the landlord hasn't applied to the court or tribunal for an eviction order yet, you should:

  • write another letter to your landlord asking them to stop the eviction process
  • ask the tribunal to dismiss the action, if you're a private tenant
  • prepare your case if it goes to court or tribunal.

Writing a further letter

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 
  • 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 it's close to 6 months since you had a Notice to Leave

For private residential tenancies, the Notice to Leave is only valid for 6 months. They must apply to the tribunal after the notice period has passed (either 28 or 84 days) but within 6 months. If they run out of time they must start the process again and serve you with another notice to leave. 

Asking the tribunal to dismiss the action

You'll need to 

If the landlord doesn't follow up the Notice to Leave with a Notice of Intention to Raise Proceedings for Possession private tenants can ask the tribunal to dismiss the action. The landlord may try to show that it would not be reasonable for the action to be dismissed. For example, the client may have been given the required amount of notice and information by other means. If the tribunal agrees that it would not be reasonable to dismiss the action, then s/he can let it go ahead unless the landlord is using Ground 8: tenant's rent is at least 3 months in arrears. If Ground 8 is being used then the notice must be served.

Preparing your case for court or tribunal

If you've got a Summons from the court or Notice of Acceptance of Application from the tribunal

Take note of when 

Next steps

The following steps are designed to help people whose eviction cases haven't come to court or tribunal yet - they will take you through checking your tenancy type and building your arguments to challenge the eviction.

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