Advice if you are at risk of homelessness

Risk of being evicted from private rented home

Most people who rent privately have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) and the process for ending this type of tenancy is set out here.

Check your tenancy agreement and if you are unsure contact us.


If you have been served with a Section 21 Notice

A Section 21 Notice is the form your landlord must give you to start the process of ending your tenancy.

It gives you notice to leave your home, but it's still legal for you to stay in your home after the date it expires.

Your landlord must follow a legal process that involves going to court to evict you. They cannot force you to leave and could be guilty of an illegal eviction if they do.

You can find out more about this on the Shelter website.

The information below sets out what may happen and how we can help.


How we can help

If you contact us we can agree a housing plan with you and help you with:

  • negotiating with your landlord
  • a referral to an agency such as the YMCA or the Foyer
  • using our pay to save fund
  • sign posting you to agencies for debt and welfare benefit advice
  • finding other accommodation within the private sector.


If the Section 21 Notice expires

We will continue to work with you on the housing plan. If you haven't found a new home by the date the notice expires, you stay in your home. You are legally allowed to do so.

We will keep working with you to find a housing solution.

Your landlord can apply to a court for a possession order if you stay past the date given on the notice. After your landlord applies to the court you will be sent the relevant papers, including a defence form. The papers also tell you which type of possession proceedings your landlord is using.

You should complete and return the defence form to the court if you want to challenge the eviction or ask for more time to stay.

The court will decide if a hearing is needed when it receives your landlord's claim and your defence form if you returned it.


If your landlord takes you to court

If your landlord uses standard possession proceedings, you will be given a date for a court hearing. You can attend the hearing even if you didn't send your defence form to the court. In other types of possession proceeding, there may not be a hearing. The court makes a decision by looking at the papers.

The court can decide to:

  • dismiss the case if the Section 21 Notice isn't valid
  • order you to leave if the notice is valid.

If the case is dismissed, your landlord has to start the eviction process again if they still want you to leave.

If the court orders you to leave, it usually gives you 2 weeks but can allow up to 6 weeks. You will probably have to pay your landlord's court costs.

The court records its decision and any leaving date in a possession order.


If the court orders you to leave your home

Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.

If you:

  • haven't found somewhere else to live
  • and don't leave by the date set out in the possession order made by the court

your landlord can apply to the court for bailiffs to evict you.

You get notice of the time and date of the eviction on a court document called Form N54. The bailiffs post this or deliver it by hand.

If you receive an eviction date, be prepared, packed and ready to hand back your keys on the day the bailiffs arrive.

You have to leave when the court bailiffs come to evict you.

If you become homeless we may have a duty to find you a home and you can apply for help with housing.


Contact the Housing Needs Team

Contact us for help with homelessness, to arrange a Housing Advice Appointment or apply for the Rent Deposit Scheme.

Address: Council Offices
The Campus
Welwyn Garden City

Telephone: 01707 357 613