Harassment and illegal eviction
Tenants are protected from illegal eviction and harassment by the Protection from Eviction Act (1977). It's vitally important that you feel safe and secure in your home and you should not tolerate threats or harassment from your landlord. There are clear legal processes to follow if your landlord wishes to end your tenancy. If they fail to follow these steps they may be acting illegally and the Council can intervene.
I'm a tenant. When do I have to let my landlord into my home?
You don't. If you have been granted a tenancy, you have the right to exclude anybody from your property unless they are entering under a Court Order (or the Police in certain circumstances). You should definitely not permit entry to anyone who you feel threatened by. If you are suffering from threats or your landlord is entering your property without permission, changing the locks is a reasonable course of action (keep in mind this could be a breach of tenancy so you should be able to evidence why you feel it was necessary to do so). Landlords do have a right of entry in law through the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) which allows them entry at any reasonable time provided they have given you 24 hours notice. This right does not give the landlord permission to enter against your will and certainly not by using force. We strongly recommend co-operating with your landlord if they are making reasonable requests to enter your property (for example to carry out periodic inspection, comply with their legal obligations & to carry out repairs). Failure to do so is likely to be a breach of your tenancy and your landlord could evict you.
If you have said the landlord cannot come in and they try to force entry you should call 999.
What is considered harassment?
Harassment can include anything done by a landlord, their agent, or any other person acting on the owner's behalf, which deliberately unsettles you in your home.
Some examples of this might be:
changing the locks or removing the tenant’s belongings
constant telephone calls and/or text messages
cutting off or interfering with services
entering the home without the tenant’s permission
harassment because of the tenant’s age, race, gender or sexuality
sending in builders without notice or visiting at unsociable hours
stopping tenants from having visitors to stay
threatening the tenant if they refuse to leave the property
threats, abuse or actual violence
If you are experiencing any of these types of behaviour, you should write to your landlord in the first instance and explain that they need to stop it. If this doesn't work, please report the matter to us. The matter is also dealt with by the Police if your landlord makes you feel unsafe in your home or makes threats against you. If there is no immediate threat to you, calling 101 is the best course of action.
You can also apply for a harassment order or injunction from a Court, which will carry a serious penalty should your landlord breach it. You may need a solicitor to help with the application and you may be eligible for legal aid depending on your circumstances.
In circumstances where the behaviour becomes so bad that you are forced to leave your property, the matter becomes illegal eviction.
What is illegal eviction?
Illegal or unlawful eviction is when a landlord or someone acting on their behalf, unlawfully deprives a tenant of all or part of their home, or attempts to force tenants to leave without following the correct legal procedures.
Some examples of this might be:
changing the locks
moving into part of the home
physically throwing the tenants out - you should call 999 if the landlord or people acting for the landlord attempt to do this.
stopping tenants from using part of their home
Only a bailiff acting under a Court Order can forcibly evict you from your home.
Illegal eviction is a criminal offence which can be punishable with a prison sentence. If you have been illegally evicted, please use our Housing Options Finder tool. You can also make a report directly to us using the reporting button below. The Council deal with legal enforcement of the Protection from Eviction Act (1977) and are likely to ask you for a witness statement concerning what has happened. Please retain any communication you have received from your landlord leading up to the eviction as this can form important evidence for us to use in the case.
For details of the correct procedure to be followed in order to end a tenancy, please visit our tenancy management page.
Shelter can provide very helpful support and information to tenants who have been the victim of illegal eviction and can provide legal assistance in taking your own legal action against your landlord.
Taking your own action
Officers within the Council are only able to enforce statutory laws regarding eviction and harassment (this means the laws that Government have formed and tasked local authorities with enforcing). We are not able to make applications for compensation and injunctions although these can be useful actions in dealing with illegal evictions. Injunctions can be sought from the County Court by using form N16A . Shelter give more on the subject. This can be a complex process so we advise using a solicitor unless you are confident in dealing with your own case. You can find a solicitor to help you with this sort of claim by visiting the Law Society website. Injunctions can be used to cause your landlord to let you back into the property (officers from the Council can be influential in gaining you access back into your property and you should ask about this, if you want to move back in) or to prevent a landlord from engaging in harassment.
You can take your landlord to court if you wish to claim compensation for harassment or illegal eviction. You can start this process by using form N1 or you can ask for assistance from a solicitor (some legal firms operate this service on a "no win, no fee" basis). Some tenants will be eligible for legal aid for this type of action and you can check this here.Court fees are chargeable for this type of action, however there maybe exemptions. You can learn more about fees.