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You're facing eviction

This advice applies to Scotland

Coronavirus - protection for tenants

The Scottish government has introduced measures to protect renters. If you're behind with your rent, your landlord can't evict you unless they give you six months' notice. Your landlord must still follow the correct legal procedure in the courts.

Read more about what to do if you have rent arrears.

If you're a private-sector tenant, your landlord must go to the First-tier Tribunal to get an eviction order. The tribunal must consider if it's reasonable to evict you in the circumstances.

Temporary ban on evictions

There is a ban on evictions in all areas until 22 January 2021. The ban will continue in level 3 and 4 areas until 31 March 2021. You can’t be evicted during this time unless your eviction is for antisocial or criminal behaviour. 

The ban stops evictions from being carried out. It doesn’t prevent eviction hearings from taking place and an eviction order can still be granted by the tribunal or court.

You can check the level you live in using the Scottish Government protection level checker.

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 facing eviction you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you're a student being evicted from university or college housing

If you're renting accommodation owned by or rented out directly to you by the university or college, check our advice on Student Housing.

Before you take any steps to move out

You should get advice and check your rights as soon as your landlord asks you to leave. 

If you want to stay in your home, you might be able to negotiate with your landlord or challenge your eviction. If you move out, you might be seen as abandoning your tenancy. You could lose the chance to challenge the eviction. 

Landlords have to follow a legal process to evict tenants. The process depends on the type of tenancy you have. This might include:

  • giving you the right length of 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 telling you they're doing this
  • attending a court or tribunal hearing to ask for an eviction order. 

The landlord might also need a reason to evict you, like if you've broken your tenancy agreement. The reasons they can use depend on the type of tenancy you have. 

You might be able to challenge your eviction if they didn't follow the legal process or you can argue against their reasons for evicting you. 

Get advice

You should try to find someone to help you as soon as possible. This might be a solicitor or a trained adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you want to get a solicitor, check if you can get help with legal costs

You can also get help from Shelter Scotland

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 might be able to take legal action to get back into your home or get compensation. There's advice about illegal eviction on the Shelter Scotland website. You should get help from a solicitor if you want to take legal action.

If you've got nowhere to stay you might also be able to apply for homeless help from the council

Check your tenancy type

The type of tenancy you have will affect:

  • 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
  • whether you challenge your eviction in the sheriff court or First-tier Tribunal. 

Your tenancy agreement will tell you the tenancy type. Be aware that this might not be correct.

If you're not sure what type of tenancy you have, you can use the tenancy checker tool on the Shelter Scotland website or get help from an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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. You can check types of public tenancies.

If you rent from an individual or through a letting agent, you're a private tenant. You can 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, not a public sector tenant. 

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 the eviction. 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 being evicted because:

  • you're in rent arrears - you could try to agree a repayment plan
  • visitors are antisocial - you could agree not to have them visit you
  • you've damaged the property beyond normal wear and tear - you could agree to pay for repairs.

Make sure you’ll be able to do what you agreed. If you don’t, 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 your landlord agrees to stop the eviction, get it in writing in a letter or email - you’ll then have a record if 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 could 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.

An adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you decide if sending a letter is the right thing to do. For example, they can check if you can challenge your eviction and what arguments you could use. They can also help you write the letter. 

Your letter should include:

  • your name and address
  • that you want your landlord 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 to stop the eviction, but you should be prepared to go to court or tribunal if they don't. You should get an adviser or solicitor to help you prepare your case. 

Challenging your eviction 

If negotiation doesn't work you might need to defend your eviction in the court or tribunal. The arguments you can use will depend on what kind of tenancy you have. 

For example, you might be able to argue that: 

  • the landlord hasn't used the correct eviction process 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 you're disabled or have another protected characteristic. 

Find out whether these arguments apply in your case using the Shelter Scotland website or check our advice on discrimination in housing

You should get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor as soon as possible. They can help you to check whether you can challenge your eviction and what arguments you could use. 

If you've got a summons from court or a notice from the First-tier Tribunal 

If you're a Scottish Secure tenant or Short Scottish Secure tenant, the council or housing association needs to get an eviction order from the sheriff court. You'll get a notice of proceedings, then a summons from the sheriff court. 

If you're a private tenant, the landlord needs to get a possession order from the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland. You'll get a notice from the First-tier Tribunal. 

Get advice as soon as possible from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter, or a solicitor. 

If you've got a summons from the sheriff court

The document is called a Summary Cause Summons. It might have come in the post or been delivered by a sheriff officer. Summary Cause is the set of rules that have to be followed at court.

It tells you:

  • when you need to be at court - the time, date and where the hearing will be
  • why the landlord is evicting you
  • if the landlord is asking for an order to get you to pay rent you owe
  • the return date for replying to the summons. 

You can read more about the Summary Cause Summons on the Shelter Scotland website

What to do when you get the summons

Do not ignore the summons. You should get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor as soon as possible. 

You might still be able to negotiate with your landlord to stop the eviction. For example, you could agree to pay back rent arrears in instalments. You could contact the landlord yourself or ask an adviser to do this for you. 

You can also write back to the court to explain why you shouldn't be evicted. This is called replying to the summons. You'll need to reply by the return date on the summons. 

Replying to the summons

Replying to the summons means that you write to the court to tell it why you shouldn't be evicted. But it's important to get it right. 

If you don't reply, or don't reply in the right way, the court could grant an eviction order if you don't go to court to defend your case. 

You should get help replying to the summons from a specialist adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. 

There’s guidance about your options for replying to a summons on the Scottish Courts website.

If you owe rent, the summons might say that your landlord is asking the court to order you to pay it. There might be a form with the summons called an Application in Writing for a Time to Pay Direction. 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 if you don't agree that you owe the money. 

If you don't reply to the summons

If you don't reply to the summons, or you miss the return date, you should prepare to challenge your eviction in court. 

If you've got a notice from the First-tier Tribunal 

The notice tells you:

  • why the landlord is evicting you
  • if the landlord is asking for an order to get you to pay rent you owe
  • the return date for replying to the tribunal. 

What to do when you get a notice from the tribunal

Do not ignore the notice. The rules about going to tribunal and defending your eviction are complex. You should get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter or a solicitor as soon as possible. 

You might still be able to negotiate with your landlord to stop the eviction. For example, you could agree to pay back rent arrears in instalments. You could contact the landlord yourself or ask an adviser to do this for you. 

You can also write back to the tribunal to explain why you shouldn't be evicted. This is called replying to the tribunal. 

Replying to the tribunal 

Replying to the tribunal means that you write to the tribunal to tell it why you shouldn't be evicted. Sometimes this is called 'written representations'. But it's important to get it right.

If you don't reply, or don't reply in the right way, the tribunal could grant an eviction order if you don't go to a hearing or case management discussion to defend your case. 

You should get advice about replying and making other applications to the tribunal from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. 

You usually have 14 days to reply to the tribunal but you could ask for more time. For example, you might need longer to get evidence for your case. The tribunal doesn't have to give you this. 

If you owe rent, the notice might say that your landlord is asking the tribunal to order you to pay it. There might be a form called an Application in Writing for a Time to Pay Order. It's important to get advice about whether to fill in this form or not. It might not be the best thing to do if you don't agree that you owe the money. 

Applying for an order against the landlord

For some arguments against your landlord it won't be enough to include them in your reply to the tribunal. You might need to apply to the tribunal for an order against your landlord. For example, if you're claiming they owe you money, like an illegal fee they charged you.  

It's important to get this right. You should get advice about making other applications to the tribunal from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. 

If you don't reply to the tribunal 

If you don't reply to the tribunal, or miss the deadline, you should prepare to challenge your eviction at a case management discussion or hearing. You'll get a notice telling you when to be at the tribunal. 

If you've got a date to appear in court or tribunal

You should get advice as soon as possible from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. They might be able to prepare your case and represent you. You can read more about getting help at court on the Shelter Scotland website

It's best to get advice before your hearing or case management discussion. But if you can't find help in time, you should still go. You can represent yourself at court or tribunal. You can read more about representing yourself in court on the Shelter Scotland website

You can choose not to go. But it's more likely the court or tribunal will grant an eviction order if there's nobody there to argue your case. 

When you get there, let the court or tribunal officer know you're there. If you didn't get advice before, ask if there is an advice service. Sometimes there are solicitors or advisers who can help people on the day, but it depends where you live. 

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 the landlord already has an eviction order from the court or tribunal

Check what the documents from the court or tribunal say about when you need to move out. 

You should get advice about your options as soon as possible. 

In some cases you might be able to agree with the landlord that they won't enforce the eviction. For example, if you agree to pay back rent arrears. 

It's illegal for the landlord to force you to leave before you have to or without following the correct legal process. For example, by changing the locks. There's more about illegal eviction on the Shelter Scotland website. You must get specialist advice as soon as possible, for example from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. 

If you can't stop the eviction, you might be able to apply for homeless help from the council, depending on your circumstances.

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, you might be able to have the case recalled. This means that the First-tier Tribunal or the court will look at the case again. 

If you want to do this you need to act quickly. Contact an adviser or solicitor as soon as possible.

You have to apply to the tribunal for a recall in writing within 14 days of the tribunal’s decision. For the sheriff court the deadlines are more complex.

You might not be able to have the case recalled. It's best to think about your other housing options too. 

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