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Challenging an eviction

Mae’r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru

You'll get court papers when your landlord starts a possession claim. You can challenge your landlord’s eviction claim when you get the court papers.

You should reply to the court within 14 days of getting the court papers.

Even if you don’t reply, you should still go to your court 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.

If you’re an introductory or demoted council tenant, you must ask for a review if you want the council to change their decision. You have to do this before you go to court.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help at any point during the eviction process. They might be able to help you fill in the defence form or negotiate with your landlord to stay in your home.

Write down why you’re challenging the eviction

If you can, talk to an adviser before you challenge your eviction.

What you need to do is different if your landlord’s 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

Use the defence form that came with the court papers to give your reasons for challenging your section 21 notice. You can also find a copy of the defence form on GOV.UK – it’s called form N11B.

If your landlord isn’t using the accelerated procedure

You can use the defence form that came with the court papers to give your reasons for challenging your eviction.

If you find it difficult to use the defence form, write what you want to say on a piece of paper instead. Write your case number on the piece of paper – you can find your case number on the claim form.

You should give as much detail as possible - the court will look at what you say to decide whether you can stay in your home.

You’ll usually need to:

  • give reasons for your problems
  • explain how you’re making the situation better
  • check the papers you get from the court
  • explain why you should be allowed more time in your home
  • respond to every claim your landlord makes against you

Tell the court if you’ve been struggling because of coronavirus

For example, tell the court if:

  • you or someone you live with had coronavirus
  • you’ve had to self-isolate
  • you’ve lost your job or you’re earning less

Give the reasons for your problems

You should explain your side of the story if your landlord has to prove the reasons to evict you.

For example if you’re being evicted for rent arrears, you should mention why you found it hard to pay your rent - this could be because you lost your job or were in hospital.

Gather any evidence you have to support your case. For example, a doctor’s note if you couldn’t pay your rent because you were ill.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against

You could help your case by including it on your form - check if your housing problem is discrimination.  

You should definitely check for discrimination if you have a physical or mental condition that makes your daily life harder. This could count as a disability in the law. Your landlord might have discriminated against you if they didn’t take your condition into account.

Explain how you're making the situation better

The court might look at what you’ve been doing to make the situation better - it depends on the reason your landlord is using to evict you.

If you can prove you’re trying to fix the situation, the court might delay making a decision on whether you should be evicted.

Make sure to mention if you:

  • are paying off your rent arrears each week or you’ve paid for repairs to any damage you caused
  • have applied for any benefits or a new job if you’re in rent arrears
  • might be able to pay your rent soon - for example because you’re expecting your first Universal Credit payment

If your landlord hasn’t done repairs

If you told your landlord your home was damp or needed repairs and they didn’t fix the problem, you might be able to make a disrepair or damages claim against them.

This could be used to lower the amount of rent arrears you owe.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help in these cases.

If you think your landlord has discriminated against you

If your landlord has treated you unfairly because of who you are, you might be able to defend your eviction. For example, they might be evicting you because you’re gay, or because they don’t want to make changes for your disability.

Check if your problem counts as discrimination to find out whether you can add it to your eviction defence.

If the reason you're being evicted is connected to your disability

You might be able to challenge the eviction. For example if you’re being evicted for rent arrears, but the reason you got into rent arrears was because your learning difficulty made it hard to follow your landlord’s payment policy.

You might be able to defend your eviction using discrimination law - check if your housing problem is discrimination.

If you're being evicted because you complained about discrimination before

This could be a type of discrimination called victimisation. You might be able to defend your eviction using discrimination law.

Note any errors in letters you’ve been sent

Your court papers will explain why your landlord is trying to evict you. They’ll usually include any evidence your landlord wants the court to look at, but your landlord might send more before the hearing. Read all the court papers carefully and check they’re correct.

If they’re wrong, explain why in your defence. For example, mention if the amount of rent arrears is wrong, or explain your side of the story if you’ve been accused of anti-social behaviour.

You should also mention if your landlord made any mistakes in their notice. For example, if they've used the wrong form.

Again, include any evidence that supports what you’re saying if you can.

Explain why you should be allowed more time in your home

Explain why you think you should have more time in your home and give as much detail as you can.

You might need to explain to the court why you should be allowed extra time - for example because you've got a serious illness or disability.

The court could delay the date you'll need to leave your home. The amount of extra time the court can give you depends on why your landlord is trying to evict you.

Depending on why your landlord is evicting you, the court could either:

  • let you stay in your home if you follow their orders - for example if you agree to pay off your arrears

  • delay the date you'll need to leave by up to 6 weeks, if leaving in the usual 14 days would cause you ‘exceptional hardship’

Send your defence to the court

You must send the defence form or what you've written to the court and your landlord within 14 days - the address will be on the form.

If you miss the deadline, you should still send it as soon as possible.

Make sure you keep a copy - you'll need to remember what you've written later on.

Check what happens after you send your defence

The process is different if your landlord’s 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 will look at your defence form. They’ll either:

  • issue a possession order – this means that you’ll have to leave your home
  • give you a date to go to court – this is known as a possession hearing

The court will usually only arrange a hearing if there’s a problem with your landlord’s paperwork or they’ve made a mistake.

If you have a possession hearing, you'll get a letter telling you when and where the hearing is.

Find out more about preparing for 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

At the review, the court will decide if there will be a court hearing – this is known as a possession hearing.

Find out more about preparing for your review and possession hearing.

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