Harassment and Illegal Eviction
What can be done
If your landlord tries to force you out of your home or evicts you without following the proper procedures this is classed as Harassment or Illegal Eviction. These are both serious criminal offences.
Harassment is where a landlord, or someone else, deliberately makes life difficult for you to try to make you leave you home, or to stop you from using your legal rights.
For example they may:
- Cut off your water, gas or electricity;
- Use threatening behaviour to make you leave;
- Try to make you sign an agreement that takes away your legal rights;
- Interfere with your possessions;
- Move into part of your home.
Illegal eviction is when someone forces you to leave your home illegally. This could be done by:
- Physically throwing you out of your home;
- Changing the locks;
- Stopping you from getting into part of your home.
A landlord is able to lawfully evict an occupier, depending on what sort of tenancy you have and what your rights are to stay in your home.
Normally, if you pay rent for a house, flat or bedsit and you do not share your accommodation with a resident landlord, the landlord must first give you written notice and then must apply to the court for a possession order before you can be evicted.
If you live in a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel you will usually have fewer rights.
If you are in any doubt about your security, it is important to get advice straight away.
How to get help
If you are worried about any of the issues above, please get advice from the Council's Housing Options team as soon as you can, either by visiting the Customer Service Centre or by telephone: 01473 433033.
Make sure you bring in any documents or correspondence relating to your tenancy that you may have.
It is a good idea to keep a careful diary of everything that happens so that you can give your advisor all the details. This includes things like:
- Any threats made against you or any other incidents, including the date and time;
- The names and addresses of any people involved, especially witnesses, including the police;
- If you need medical treatment, make a note of the names of the doctors who examined you.
Once we have all your information we can give you advice about your legal rights. We can also contact your landlord and use persuasion and warnings to stop him or her behaving unlawfully.
Involving the Police
You should ALWAYS tell the police if you have been harassed or illegally evicted. This is particularly important if you have been threatened or assaulted or if your property has been damaged or stolen.
The police may be able to warn the landlord that he or she is breaking the law. They may also be able to prosecute if the landlord has committed an assault or criminal damage.
If the police have witnessed an offence taking place, please ask them to take notes on what has happened and make a written report to the Council.
Make sure you keep a note of the name and number of any police officers that you speak to.
Out of Hours Emergencies
If you suffer harassment or are illegally evicted at night or over the weekend you should call the police. Tell them you will be making a formal report about the incident to the Council on the next working day.
If you are homeless and in a 'priority need' group, you or the police can contact the Council's emergency service on: 01473 433228. They can find out if it is possible to arrange alternative accommodation for you.
You are in the 'priority need' group if you:
- Have children;
- Are pregnant;
- Are elderly;
- Are under 18;
- Suffer from a serious medical condition;
- Have a disability.
Last Updated: Tuesday 5th October 2010