Housing and Property
Tel: 0300 123 4566
The information on this page is available in our leaflet 'Keeping your home and where to get advice' (PDF)
Your landlord must by law tell us when they take court action to repossess your house. We want to help you keep your home. The quicker you act, the more likely you are to keep your home and avoid becoming homeless.
If you are confused or worried about what to do, phone us now on 0300 123 4566.
If you feel able to cope, please read on. We will explain what you need to do and where you can get free and confidential information.
Whatever you decide, please do something and act now. If you ignore court papers, your lender can get a judgement against you automatically. This may mean that you lose your home and become homeless
The possibility of becoming homeless often makes people feel anxious, frightened, depressed and unable to cope. You may feel that your world is crashing in on you. Remember, everyone facing homelessness feels like that. The first step is asking for help.
You can get free legal and money advice to help you access your rights, take control of your life, and save your home. This page tells you what you can do to prevent homelessness and where you can get free legal advice and assistance and support for any other problems you might have.
Landlords must follow specific legal procedure to evict tenants.
If you rent your home from a private landlord or a letting agency then you will probably have an assured tenancy if:
In most cases your landlord will need to follow the steps below in order to evict you. However, in a few cases, a landlord might be able to skip serving you a notice to quit (see below). If you have any doubts you should get advice as soon as possible. The process is as follows:
If you rent your home from a private landlord or a letting agency then you will probably have a short assured tenancy if:
If your landlord wants you to leave before the end of your tenancy they must:
If you have a short assured tenancy your landlord may be able to seek a mandatory eviction order. Your landlord can only do this if they have brought your tenancy to an end (by a valid ‘notice to quit’ ) and have given prior written notice that they will require the property back once the tenancy has come to an end. If the landlord does this correctly the court may have no option but to grant an order for eviction. Your solicitor or advisor can check this, as well as checking whether you really do have a short assured tenancy. Sometimes landlords create assured tenancies by error – these give tenants more rights.
As a tenant of a private landlord you should be very careful not to owe more than three months arrears of rent to your landlord. If your case calls in court and you owe more than three months rent your landlord can ask for a mandatory eviction order – known as ‘Ground 8’ – and the court may have no option but to grant this. However, if you are over three months in arrears because of a delay or failure in the housing benefit system your solicitor or advisor can use this to defend the case.
You have the right to defend legal proceedings for eviction. It is important to make sure that you have a solicitor or advisor to represent you in court.
If you have a low income/savings you may get free or cheap legal advice and help. You may be entitled to civil legal aid or advice and assistance which can pay for outlays and whatever needs to be done to defend you. For more information contact the Civil Legal Advice Office (Highlands and Islands) , which covers the Moray area.
Yes. You can access one through the agencies listed at the end of this page. You will need to meet with a solicitor or advisor prior to your case calling in court, so please remember to bring the following paperwork with you:
If your landlord is taking court action against you to evict you and recover your home, you will get court papers. These are called a ‘summons.’
Do not ignore it! If you don't do anything, you may be evicted.
If you are not sure of what to do, you can ask for independent advice on your legal rights from one of the advice agencies listed at the end of this page. If you do not respond to the summons, or do not reply properly, it's likely that the court will grant an order for your eviction. This may also happen if you don't go to court on the calling date.
Do not fill in the time to pay form attached to the summons. This will seriously weaken your legal position in an eviction case and will result in a court order (decree) for payments by instalment.
You will find instructions about how to reply to the summons on the summons itself. You will also find a guide to replying to the summons on the sheriff court website.
The claim is the section where your landlord will ask for a possession order and say why they want it (for example, because you owe them rent or you have behaved antisocially).
The return date is the date that you should reply to the court by if you do not want to be evicted. If you do not agree with the reasons for your landlord taking you to court or you do not want to be evicted, you should reply to the court by the return date.
If the return date has passed and you have not replied, you will still be able to go to court on the calling date to explain to the sheriff why you shouldn't be evicted.
This is the date and time when your case will be heard in court. It's very important that you go to court on this date. If you do not go to court, or someone else does not go on your behalf, the sheriff is more likely to grant an order to evict you.
The sheriff can do any of the following.
The sheriff may decide not to make a decision at the hearing and arrange another hearing. This is usually to allow time for you to:
The sheriff will tell you the date of the next hearing at the end of this hearing.
If the sheriff dismisses the case it means that they have decided there is no case to hear. This could be because:
If the sheriff suspends your case, they can call you back to court at a later date. This is called ‘sisting’ the case. For example, they may suspend your case to give you time to show:
If you fail to keep to the arrangement you have made, your landlord can bring your case back to court.
If the sheriff grants a decree, it means that they have made a decision to grant the order your landlord asked for. This means that they have given your landlord permission to end your legal right to live in the property and evict you and order you to pay the costs of taking you to court. If you do not understand, you can ask the sheriff to explain this to you.
If the court grants a decree, your landlord can legally evict you. However, you will have 14 days to appeal against the court’s decision after the decree has been granted. If you want to appeal against the decision you should get independent legal advice.
Your tenancy will end on the date on the decree. You no longer have a legal right to live in the property. You will no longer have the rights that you previously had under your tenancy. For example, if you had a Scottish secure tenancy, you will no longer have the right to buy, the right of succession or the right to exchange your home.
If your wages are low or you’re in receipt of benefits you might be entitled to help from the council to pay your rent. This is known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the amount of money you will get depends on your financial and personal circumstances.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to claim as soon as possible. If you have delayed in submitting your claim you might still be able to get it backdated so you don’t lose out if you have a good reason for the delay (known as good cause). For example, you could not apply straight away as you were ill or waiting on the outcome of another benefit claim. Your solicitor or advisor can help you with this.
If you are already getting LHA but it doesn’t cover all of your rent this might be because an overpayment of housing benefit is being deducted. It’s worth checking with your advisor whether this could be challenged.
Importantly, the onus is on you to make a claim for LHA. You can get free help to do so from one of the agencies listed at the end of this page.
This could help pay your rent arrears. The checklist below contains some suggestions. Remember there could be other possibilities and you can discuss all of these with one of the agencies listed at the end of this page.
You could put any money saved towards your rent and arrears. The checklist below contains some examples:
Once your home has been repossessed and the locks have been changed it will be too late to do anything about this. However, even if a court order (decree) has been granted for the eviction it might still be possible to save your home prior to the locks being changed.
It may be possible for a solicitor or advisor to lodge a minute for recall of decree. Once this is lodged at the sheriff court and served on your landlord it cancels the eviction until the case is reconsidered by the court.
You will not be able to apply for a minute for recall of decree if you have already defended the case or previously applied for a minute for recall of decree in the same case.
Yes. There are other housing options that you can consider, for example, social housing. This includes housing managed by councils and housing associations (Registered Social Landlords or RSLs). Social housing providers use allocation policies (set of rules) to decide how to give out their housing. Some of the rules are based on the law, and others are up to the individual council or RSL to decide. Most providers allocate properties based on a person’s housing need.
For more information about housing options please refer to A Guide to Housing Options in Moray or contact us using the details provided at the end of this page.
If you have no prospect of saving your home or you become homeless, we may have a duty to provide you with temporary or permanent accommodation. Please contact us as soon as possible using the details provided at the end of this page. You can also get independent advice on your legal rights from one of the advice agencies listed.
If your landlord wants to evict you get advice immediately. If you ignore court papers your landlord can get a judgment against you automatically and you may lose your home.
For more information about housing options in Moray please phone 0300 123 4566.