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Eviction information for private tenants

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and current lockdown, bailiffs cannot carry out evictions until after 31 May. The only exceptions to this include evictions due to anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.

The legal process your landlord must follow if they want to evict you has changed.

There are different ways you and your landlord can end your tenancy. It depends on the type of contract you have.

If you live with your landlord

If you live with your landlord and share facilities with them, you are classed as a lodger, not a tenant. If your landlord wants you to move out, they do not need to evict you. They only have to give you reasonable notice to leave their property. Reasonable notice usually means the length of the rental payment period.

Lodger agreements were not part of the pause. As lodgers were not required to be taken to court for an eviction, they were exempt from this ban.

As a lodger, you may be vulnerable to being illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord. If you think that this may be happening to you, please contact us on rogue.landlords@lewisham.gov.uk or call 0208 314 9285.

If you don’t live with your landlord

The process your landlord has to follow depends on the stage it was at before evictions were put on hold.

If your landlord had started a court case to evict you before lockdown but could not carry on as cases were suspended before the Court made any order, the following will apply:

  • Your landlord will have to give you a copy of a document they have sent to the court informing you that they intend to restart the eviction. This is called a Reactivation Notice.
  • Any Reactivation Notice must contain information about how you and your household have been financially affected by Covid-19, and whether you or any or your household have lost income or have been part of a shielded group.
  • If you do not get a Reactivation Notice, the case will be ended and your landlord will have to start again if they want to evict you.
  • You may be able to defend yourself against your landlord’s claim. Get advice on how to do this from Shelter or Citizens' Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can use the Law Society's search engine to find a solicitor who specialises in housing law within your local area.

If the court made an order evicting you before lockdown but did not give the bailiffs permission to evict you, the following will apply:

  • Your landlord will not have to give you a Reactivation Notice, and can ask the court to get the bailiffs to evict you.
  • You should be given at least 14 days’ notice in writing from the court before the bailiffs attend.
  • You can apply to the court to have the warrant suspended. Get advice on how to do this from Shelter or Citizens' Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can use the Law Society's search engine to find a solicitor who specialises in housing law within your local area.

In the case that there was a warrant allowing the bailiffs to evict you that was cancelled because of lockdown:

  • Your landlord will not have to give you a Reactivation Notice.
  • The appointment allowing the bailiffs to evict you will be rescheduled.
  • You will be given at least 14 days’ notice of this appointment.
  • You will be able to apply to the court to have the warrant suspended. Get advice on how to do this from Shelter or Citizens' Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can use the Law Society's search engine to find a solicitor who specialises in housing law in your local area.

If your landlord had not started the court case before lockdown

Stage 1: notice

Your landlord must serve you with a valid notice. 

There are different kinds of notices for different types of tenancy:

  • If you have a tenancy agreement that says you can live in your home for a fixed amount of time, or that you will be paying your rent on a monthly basis, then your landlord can serve a section 21 notice. This means that your landlord does not have to prove that you have broken your tenancy agreement to evict you.
  • If you have broken the terms of your tenancy (for example, if you are in rent arrears), you will get a section 8 notice.

If you have received a valid notice, you will not have to leave your home immediately.

Invalid notices

You should get advice and check if the notice is valid. There are new rules for this:

  • The notice is not valid if it is not in the correct legal format
  • It doesn’t give you an adequate amount of time. The amount of time the notice has to give you depends upon when and why it was given to you.

Notice Periods

  • The period of time before the notice expires allows your landlord to take you to court must be two months. These notices are valid for 6 months, so if they haven’t started the court process by then, they will have to serve a new notice.
  • This time was extended to 3 months if your landlord gave you notice between 26 March and 28 August 2020. These Notices are valid for 6 months, so if they haven’t started the court process by then, they will have to serve a new notice.
  • Your landlord gave you notice on or after 29 August - the time before you can be taken to court is 6 months. These notices are valid for 10 months, so if they haven’t started the court process by then, they will have to serve a new notice.

The six month notice period doesn’t apply if your landlord is claiming:

  • anti-social behaviour (landlords can now give you now 4 weeks’ notice in the event of this occurring)
  • domestic abuse (2 to 4 weeks’ notice required)
  • false statement (2 to 4 weeks’ notice required)
  • over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks’ notice required)
  • breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (3 months’ notice required)
  • your deposit has not been protected as part of a government authorised scheme
  • you did not get certain written information about your deposit and the scheme that it is protected by
  • the notice has a mistake on it
  • you live in a house that needs a licence and your landlord doesn’t have one
  • your landlord gave you the notice within the first four months of your tenancy, unless you have a replacement tenancy
  • your tenancy started after 1 October 2015 and your landlord didn’t give you a gas safety check certificate, energy performance certificate (EPC) or a ‘how to rent’ guide before giving you notice

Stage 2: court 

 After the notice has expired, the landlord has to apply to the court for possession of the property. As part of this process:

  • You will be given copies of the application.
  • Your landlord must set out the reasons for which an eviction is being requested. The landlord must also provide information about how Covid-19 has affected your household financially and whether you or a member of your household have been shielding during lockdown. They must also give the court 2 years’ rent accounts if they are asking the court to evict you for rent arrears.
  • You may be able to defend yourself against your landlord’s claim. Get advice on how to do this from Shelter or Citizens' Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can use this search engine to find a solicitor who specialises in housing law in your local area.
  • If your landlord is not applying for an accelerated possession, there will be a review appointment at court. You should attend this appointment as you and your landlord will be encouraged to settle the case so that you can remain in your home. You can get advice from the Duty Advisor at court, and you can use the links above to either get advice before going to court or to find a solicitor to represent you.
  • Even if your landlord has asked for accelerated possession, you should seek advice. Your landlord has to have followed the correct procedure before they can use the accelerated possession process.

Stage 3: eviction 

If the court grants possession and you do not leave the property, the landlord has to return to court to get a ‘warrant of eviction’ (commonly known as a bailiff warrant).

Stage 4: warrant execution

The warrant will give you a time and date for when the locks will be changed. 

Only a bailiff can evict you with a valid warrant from the court. Once they have an eviction order, the landlord cannot change the locks. This will be a criminal offence. If you are worried that your landlord may be doing this to you, please contact our team on rogue.landlords@lewisham.gov.uk or call 0208 314 9285.

Court costs

Remember, if the eviction procedure goes to court, you may be responsible for the court costs.

Delaying the eviction 

You may be able to delay eviction. Read more on Shelter’s website about delaying eviction.

Illegal eviction

Your landlord is evicting you illegally if they: 

  • physically remove you from the property
  • change the locks while you’re out (unless you are a lodger)
  • harass you so badly that you’re forced to leave
  • deny supply of electricity, gas or water.

If your landlord is harassing you

Find out what to do if your landlord is harassing you. Or contact our Rogue Landlord Team on rogue.landlords@lewisham.gov.uk or call 0208 314 9285

If you are harassed or unlawfully evicted you can apply for a rent repayment order.

How to get advice

Answer a few short questions to get advice about your housing situation.

You might be able to get free legal help from Civil Legal Advice.

You can also get advice on eviction from Shelter or from Citizens Advice.

How we can help

Contact us so we can advise and support you as soon as possible

  • We may be able to negotiate with your landlord and help you stay in your home.
  • If that isn’t possible, we will work with you to find somewhere else to live. 
  • We prosecute illegal evictors.

Contact

Private Sector Housing Enforcement

Email: pshe@lewisham.gov.uk
Fax: 020 8314 3138
Opening hours:

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Telephone: 020 8314 6420