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Harassment and illegal eviction

Harassment is when your landlord, or someone else acting for them does things to try and make you leave your home.

It can include:

  • Stopping the supplies of gas, electricity or water to your accommodation.
  • Refusing to do repairs.
  • Frequent unannounced visits, especially if they are late at night.
  • Entering your home when you are not there, without your permission.
  • Making threats and telling you to leave.

Unlawful eviction

Unlawful eviction is when your landlord or someone acting for them forces you to leave your home without following the proper legal procedures.

Unless you are sharing part of your accommodation with your landlord (such as a bathroom, kitchen or living room), you can only be forced to leave your home by the County Court Bailiffs. For this to happen your landlord must serve a proper written notice telling you that your tenancy is being ended, and then must apply to the County Court for a Possession Order requiring you to leave. Only the bailiffs can enforce the Possession Order and force you to leave, this cannot be done by your landlord.

Examples of unlawful eviction can include:

  • Changing the locks when you are out.
  • Being physically thrown out.
  • Being stopped from getting into part or all of your home.

What should I do?

Most landlords want to provide good and secure homes for their tenants and have no intention of causing distress to their tenants or of breaking the law.

If you feel that you are being harassed, threatened with unlawful eviction or if you have already been evicted unlawfully, you should contact the Private Sector Housing Team straight away. The address and telephone number are given on this page.

With your agreement, officers will try and contact your landlord and explain the legal situation to them. They will ask your landlord to stop harassing you and/or to let you back into your home.

You will also be advised that as a private tenant you can take legal action through your own solicitor if you are being harassed or have been unlawfully evicted.

Usually this action is sufficient to solve the problem. If it does not work, and where there is enough evidence to show that your landlord's behaviour is illegal, the Council can choose to prosecute.

If this happens you will be asked to make a formal statement and to be a witness in court.

Always keep a record

If you are suffering harassment or are being threatened with unlawful eviction always keep a diary about what has happened. It is very easy to forget later on, and written details will be useful if you want to inform the Council or your own solicitor later on. It is also a good idea to take photographs if you can of anything the landlord may have done, or not done, to make you want to leave.

Access to your home

Your landlord has a legal right to enter your home for inspection and to carry out repairs but only after giving you at least 24 hours written notice. The inspection must be at a reasonable time, e.g not in the middle of the night.

Call the police

If your landlord turns up unannounced you do not need to let him or her in. If they insist on getting in, call the police.