Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 it is a criminal offence (and also a civil wrong entitling tenants to bring a claim for compensation) for landlords to
- Harass tenants, or
- Evict them without getting a court order first
This is an important right for tenants as even where landlords have an absolute right to possession (as they often will under section 21) the actual process of getting a court order for possession will take them at least four to six months, and often longer.
Under the legislation, whether a landlord is guilty of harassment depends on the effect it has on the tenant. If it is conduct likely to make the tenant want to move out, it will be harassment, even if the landlord did not actually have that intention.
The sort of conduct which will be deemed harassment is (in order of severity)
- Threats of, or actual, violence and/or verbal abuse
- Removal of doors, windows, and other items from the property
- Disconnection of services, such as gas and electricity
- Entering the property without the tenant’s consent
- Any other act which is likely to cause the tenant to give up his occupancy of the property
You will find a lot more information in >> this article.
When evicting a tenant, a landlord must follow what is called ‘due process’. This means following the proper legal procedure.
For evicting a tenant there are three stages, all of which must be completed by the landlord properly:
- Serving the correct notice
- Issuing proceedings (after the notice period has expired) and getting a court order for possession
- Enforcing the order by the Court Bailiffs under the authority of the possession order
If a tenant is illegally evicted, they can in some circumstance get back in again (either by breaking in or by order of the court) and they can also claim compensation through the courts.
If your landlord is trying to evict you – see our tips page here.
For more information on this important subject see the posts below.
Landlord Law posts
- Tenants legal help – five tips on dealing with landlord harassment
- Do tenants own the property they rent?
- What happens to your tenancy if the property is sold to a new landlord
- Four ironclad rights tenants have if their landlord wants to sell their property
- Three misunderstandings about a tenants rights when a section 21 notice is served on them
- Tenants legal help – what to do about illegal eviction
- New nightmares for landlords using High Court Sheriffs to evict tenants
- Unlawful eviction case – the police finally brought to account