Private renting for tenants: evictions

5. Harassment and illegal evictions

It’s a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using proper procedures. If this happens, you may have a right to claim damages through the court.

What is harassment?

Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave.

Harassment can include:

  • stopping services, like electricity
  • withholding keys - eg there are 2 tenants in a property but the landlord will only give 1 key
  • refusing to carry out repairs
  • anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent - eg a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
  • threats and physical violence

Illegal eviction and tenants’ rights

Your landlord may be guilty of illegal eviction if you:

  • aren’t given the notice to leave the property that your landlord must give you
  • find the locks have been changed
  • are evicted without a court order

Even if your landlord’s property is repossessed by their mortgage lender, the lender must give you a notice period so you can find other accommodation. Citizens Advice has information on repossession by your landlord’s mortgage lender.

What you can do

If you think you’re being harassed or threatened with illegal eviction, or the property you rent is being repossessed, talk to your local council.

It may have someone specialising in tenant harassment issues.

Local councils can also start legal proceedings if they think there’s enough evidence of harassment or illegal eviction.

You could also contact a legal adviser, a Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter’s housing advice helpline.

You local area may also have other housing or legal advice organisations - your local council, phonebook or library should have details.

If physical violence is involved, contact the police.

For further advice, the Department for Communities and Local Government has a detailed guide for tenants facing harassment and illegal eviction.