East London hit the headlines this week as BBC news reported on private tenants who have been asked to leave their tenancies at short notice so that their homes can be rented out to visitors to the Olympics and landlords can capitalise on increased rental demand.
But with the Olympic ceremony kicking off the sporting action on July 27th, most landlords don’t have sufficient time to lawfully evict private tenants with assured shorthold tenancies (the most common type of tenancy for private tenants who don’t live with their landlord).
This means that if your landlord is trying to force you to leave without going through the proper court procedure, they may be evicting you illegally.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has warned that landlords face up to two years in jail if they harass or illegally evict their tenants to get them out before the Olympics.
What are my rights?
If you’re a private tenant with an Assured Shorthold tenancy and your landlord tries to make you leave before the Olympics without going through the proper procedures check out your options below. Don’t hesitate to seek specialist housing advice on your situation (details below).
The proper court procedure that a landlord must follow in order to lawfully evict their Assured Shorthold tenant can take several months, including:
- issuing correct written Notice Seeking Possession to the tenant which gives them notice (between two weeks and two months) that the landlord wants them to leave the property;
- applying for a Possession Order if the tenant has not left the property by the end of the notice period;
- applying to court for a Warrant of Eviction if the tenant has not left the property by the final date given on the Possession Order. The court will issue a document called the Notice of Eviction which gives the date on which bailiffs will attend the property to evict the tenant.
Things to remember
If the landlord has to apply to the court to get a Possession Order (after the Notice Seeking Possession has expired), and the court decides to evict you then it is likely that you will have to pay the landlord’s costs. To get a Possession Order against an Assured Shorthold tenant may cost about £200 if the case is straightforward, but can be much higher for more complicated situations or if the landlord uses a solicitor.
If you have received a Notice Seeking Possession you can check it out with a specialist housing adviser to find out your rights.
If the landlord has not protected your tenancy deposit in a recognised tenancy deposit scheme then they cannot use the Accelerated Possession Procedure. You can check whether your deposit is protected here, and check what type of notice you have been given with a specialist housing adviser.
If your landlord threatens you or tries to make you leave by cutting off water, gas or electricity, then this may be harassment which is a criminal offence.
You can report illegal eviction and harassment to the police and to Hackney Council’s Housing Advice Service who have the power to prosecute landlords.
If you’re facing eviction, don’t hesitate to seek help and advice from a specialist housing adviser. A range of organisations in Hackney can help. See Where to get help for more information.