We often hear from frustrated landlords who, despite serving notices to their tenants, are told the local authority won’t re-house them. This forces landlords to pursue eviction to repossess their property which can be lengthy and costly. So what obligations do councils have when it comes to rehousing evicted tenants?
Are Councils Legally Obliged to Rehouse Evicted Tenants?
When a tenant applies as homeless, the council must first assess if they are homeless or just “at risk” of homelessness. Due to limited housing stock, councils also evaluate if the applicant has a “priority need” to ensure limited housing goes to those most in need.
Those considered priority needs include:
- Applicants with dependent children
- Pregnant applicants
- Those at risk of domestic abuse
- Vulnerable applicants
If deemed a priority need, the council will assess if the applicant is “intentionally homeless” due to deliberate actions like not paying rent. Just being evicted for rent arrears doesn’t necessarily mean intentional homelessness.
If assessed as:
- Not intentionally homeless – offered permanent housing
- Intentionally homeless but priority need – offered temporary housing (usually 28 days)
Council Obligations Before Eviction
If a landlord has served notice but has not yet legally evicted the tenant, the tenant is just “at risk” of homelessness. In this case, the council has no legal duty to rehouse but may choose to if housing is available, avoiding a court eviction.
Strictly speaking, until a landlord obtains a court order and repossesses the property, the tenant isn’t legally homeless, and the council has no rehousing obligation. They cannot take over the tenancy without a notice of eviction from a council. Know your rights and responsibilities and continue to stay in your home till there is court action.
Essential Steps for Landlords Before Eviction
With tenants knowing their rights and assistance available, landlords must also understand the proper eviction process and rights.
Key steps include:
- Serving proper notices to tenants
- Obtaining court order
- Legally repossessing property
Only after legal repossession is the tenant considered homeless. Following the lawful process is vital for landlords seeking to evict and reclaim their property. This will be different in case of social housing.
Conclusion: Tenancy agreement
If you are facing potential eviction and homelessness, be aware that housing associations, councils, and landlords consider factors like your rent payment history, the type of tenancy agreement, and if you still live in the property when deciding if they may be able to offer accommodation or housing. Organizations like Citizens Advice can also provide information on your rights and options if eviction and homelessness are possibilities. Be sure to seek out qualified legal and housing advice so you fully understand the eviction process and any assistance you may be able to get to secure alternative, affordable housing if ultimately required to vacate your current home. There are resources available to help guide you through this difficult situation. Get help from Clarity Simplicity on matters relating to the council and housing assosc