Your landlord has changed the locks
Advice if your landlord has changed the locks
If your landlord has changed the locks, they may have evicted you illegally depending on the circumstances and your tenancy type.
If you rent from a private landlord who does not live with you, you will probably have an assured shorthold tenancy, or AST.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord has to follow specific legal steps to evict you.
You can look at:
- GOV.UK for information about harassment and illegal evictions
- Shelter for information about what an illegal eviction is, and what you can do after an illegal eviction
You may need to pursue legal action to re-enter your home.
If you can't re-enter your home immediately, you will need to find somewhere else to stay. You could ask family or friends to stay with them, or find a hotel.
Finding somewhere to stay
If you want to find somewhere to stay, you can look at our advice about improving your housing situation. You can find out about renting privately, asking family or friends and getting more help.
A Section 21 notice is the first step your landlord will take to evict you and take the property back.
Your landlord does not need a reason or 'grounds' to give you a Section 21 notice. It does not necessarily mean you have done anything wrong or breached your tenancy.
To actually evict you from the property, your landlord will need to take two more steps. This means the eviction process can take several months.
You are not legally required to leave the property when your landlord gives you a Section 21 notice, or when the notice expires. However, if your landlord eventually goes to court to get possession, it may cost you money.
You need to continue paying your rent if you receive a Section 21 notice, as you will still be liable.
Contact your landlord
If you receive a Section 21 notice, the first thing you need to do is contact your landlord to find out:
- why they want you to leave the property
- if they will reconsider
There might be a simple issue that you can resolve together, and they could offer you a new tenancy.
Check if your Section 21 notice is valid
If your landlord still wants you to leave after you have contacted them, you need to check that the Section 21 notice is valid.
Your landlord may not be able to evict you if the Section 21 notice is invalid.
To evict you from the property, your landlord will need to go to court to claim possession. If your landlord has not followed the specific legal steps to make the notice valid, the court may throw out their claim for possession.
You can look at Shelter for information about Section 21 notices, and how to tell if yours is valid.
You can also look at Citizens Advice for more information about Section 21 notices, including:
- an explanation of what the notice is
- how to tell if yours is valid
- what to do next
A Section 8 notice is different to a Section 21 notice.
To give you a Section 8 notice, your landlord needs to have a reason to evict you (such as rent arrears). These reasons are called grounds for possession.
You can look at Citizens Advice for information about grounds for possession.
Your landlord still has to follow specific legal steps to evict you even if they give you a Section 8 notice. The landlord will have to prove they followed these steps in court.
You can look at Citizens Advice for information about:
- when your landlord can give you a Section 8 notice
- how to check if your landlord has give you the Section 8 notice correctly
- how to check if your Section 8 notice is valid
- what to do next
You can also find advice about rent arrears and how to manage it.
Your Section 21 notice will tell you when you are meant to leave the property. Once this date has passed, your Section 21 notice has 'expired'.
If you receive a Section 8 notice, it will tell you when you are meant to leave the property. It will also expire after this date.
Even after the date has passed and your notice has expired, you do not legally need to leave the property.
The next step your landlord needs to take to evict you is to ask the court for an Order for Possession. If they need to take this step and the court grants possession, you may be liable for the court fees and other costs.
If your landlord asks the court for an Order for Possession, there may be a court hearing.
The court will send you documents to complete, including one to challenge your notice if it wasn't valid.
If the court grants the landlord possession, they will issue you with a possession order. The possession order will have an expiry date, which is usually 14 or 28 days after the court hearing.
Even after the date has passed and the possession order has expired, you still do not legally need to leave the property.
The final step your landlord needs to take to evict you is to ask the court for a warrant for eviction.
Warrant for eviction
If the court grants the warrant for eviction, they will give you a final date for when you need to leave the property.
On this date, court bailiffs will attend the property to evict you. After this, you will only be able to enter the property to collect your belongings with your landlord's permission. You will no longer have any legal rights to live there.
You can look at Citizens Advice for information about evictions, and what to do.
If your landlord wants to evict you, you need to contact them to find out if it's a simple issue you can resolve together.
However, your landlord might not reconsider their decision to evict you. For example, if they are selling the property and want vacant possession they will need you to leave.
If your landlord definitely wants you leave, you need to start looking for somewhere else to live.
Even though the eviction process can take up to several months, you need to start looking as soon as your landlord gives you notice.
If your landlord doesn't follow the correct legal steps, it may delay the court giving them a possession order and then a warrant for eviction. However, your landlord is still likely to eventually get possession of the property.