The law protects people living in residential property against harassment and illegal eviction.
If you are an assured or a short hold tenant renting in the private sector, your landlord cannot evict you without a court order and to do so is a criminal offence. It is also a criminal offence for the landlord, or someone acting on the landlords behalf, to:
- stop you from using parts of your home that you have a legal right to access
- try and drive you out of your home by bullying, violence, withholding gas and electricity services or any other sort of interference. This can include unannounced visits which involve your landlord or agent letting themselves in, particularly at antisocial hours.
What is harassment?
Harassment is a very broad term which is used loosely to cover a wide range of activities. It can take many forms short of physical violence.
It may not always be obvious to other people that particular sorts of activity are intended to drive you from your home. On the other hand there may be cases where a landlord has good reasons for doing things, which could be interpreted as harassment. There are defences in the Protection from Eviction and the Housing Acts for landlords who have good reason for acting in a particular way, or for thinking that the tenant had left the property.
A landlord, his or her agent, or someone who may or may not be connected with either of them, may do things which are distressing and undermine you of your sense of security; these activities may or may not amount to harassment as it would be interpreted by the courts.
What is illegal eviction?
A landlord's right to get his or her property back from a residential tenant can normally only be enforced through the courts.
A landlord seeking possession from you must tell you of his or her intentions to start court proceedings by serving a notice of seeking possession on the tenant. Depending on the grounds on which the landlord is seeking possession, the period of notice will be zero weeks, two weeks or two months except in a few cases where the tenancy agreement stipulates longer notice.
You are not required to leave the property until the notice expires, and even then may not be evicted without an order of the court.
Where should I go for advice?
If you are suffering from harassment from your landlord or think you are being evicted illegally, please contact us as soon as possible.
We will investigate your concerns and contact your landlord to discuss their actions if they have been acting inappropriately or illegally. We have the power to start legal proceedings for offences of harassment and illegal eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act.
In extreme cases of harassment, and where the property is in poor condition, a local authority may take over the management of a house in multiple occupation (that is, where the occupiers do not live together as a single household), by making it subject to a control order. A local authority also has compulsory purchase powers which it can use in certain circumstances where there is very bad harassment.