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Most private tenants can only be evicted if your landlord has served a valid notice and has been to court to obtain a warrant of eviction to end your tenancy. This applies to everyone who has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

What is unlawful evictionWhat is harassmentWhen a landlord can evict you without bailiffsInform your landlord that they are acting unlawfullyOther steps to take

What is unlawful eviction

Landlords and letting agents must follow the correct procedures to evict tenants. It’s an unlawful eviction if your landlord or anyone acting on their behalf:

  • forces you to leave by threatening or harassing you
  • physically throws or kicks you out
  • stops you from getting into parts of your home
  • changes the locks while you’re out

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, for example 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, for example a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
  • threats and physical violence

When a landlord can evict you without bailiffs

Your landlord can evict you themselves if you are:

  • a lodger
  • in a council or housing association hostel
  • in emergency accommodation provided by the council

They still have to follow some rules and they must not harass you. Get advice from us if you are unsure about your rights, or see further information on Eviction of lodgers – Shelter England.

Inform your landlord that they are acting unlawfully

If your landlord is harassing you, has unlawfully evicted you or is attempting to do so, you should inform them in writing that this action is unlawful. Many landlords are not aware of the law and may not realise they are acting unlawfully.

Ask your landlord to:

  • allow you back into the property
  • stop trying to evict you unlawfully
  • stop harassing you
  • return your belongings

Local councils are responsible for making sure unlawful evictions don’t happen and can help you return home. In extreme cases they can prosecute landlords who carry out unlawful evictions. Report your landlord to us if they are trying to force you out of the property without taking the proper steps. The council can take your landlord to court if you have been unlawfully evicted.

You may also want to contact the police if you feel you are in danger.

Other steps to take

Make sure to keep records. Ask your landlord to put all communication with you in writing, and keep copies of all correspondence. This can be used as evidence should the harassment continue. You should also keep a diary of all incidents, including dates and times, which can also be used as evidence.

Write to your landlord to ask them to stop the actions you feel are harassment. If this does not resolve the situation, you can write to them again stating you will be seeking legal action if they do not stop.

You can contact the Housing Options team on 0300 123 2224. We will take your details and investigate whether you may be being harassed or unlawfully evicted. We are likely to contact your landlord to discuss the issue and see if we can resolve the situation in the first instance.

You can consider getting an injunction against your landlord. An injunction is a court order that orders someone to do something or stop doing something. You’ll need the help of a solicitor or adviser to obtain an injunction. Legal aid is available for injunctions against landlords who harass tenants. You may be eligible for legal aid if you claim certain benefits or have a low income. Contact Civil Legal Advice to find out if you qualify for legal aid to help you get an injunction.

Last reviewed: July 9, 2024 by Neil

Next review due: January 9, 2025

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