Harassment and Illegal Eviction for Tenants
Harassment From Landlords
What counts as Harassment
If your landlord does something that interferes with your ability to enjoy living in your home in peace and is intended to make you leave your home or take away your rights, s/he could be guilty of harassment. Remember: The fact that your landlord owns your home does not give her/him, or anyone acting on her/his behalf, a right to harass you.
Harassment can take a number of different forms, for example:
- removing or restricting access to services such as gas, electricity or water, or failing to pay the bills so that these services are cut off
- visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night
- interfering with your post
- threatening you
- sending builders round without notice
- entering your home when you are not there, without your permission
- allowing your home to get into such a bad state of repair that it's dangerous for you to stay
- beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them
- harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality
- refusing to let you into certain parts of your home (for example, the kitchen or bathroom)
- stopping you from having guests
- intentionally moving in other tenants who cause a nuisance to you
- forcing you to sign agreements which take away your legal rights.
This behaviour may be intended to make you leave your home without your landlord having to follow the proper legal procedures, or it may be for other reasons. Harassment can be very distressing and might make you feel as though you have no choice other than to move out.
This is not the case - harassment is in fact a serious criminal offence.
What can I do about it?
If your landlord (or agent) is harassing you, you may be able to get help from the council, or take your landlord to court. Harassment does not have to be obvious or intentional before you can do something about it. You may also be able to:
- ask your landlord to stop the behaviour
- keep a diary, notes and photographs of what happens
- go to an advice centre, the police, the council, or a solicitor for help
- ask your landlord to put all communication with you in writing
- write to her/him, saying if the harassment continues you will take legal action
- have someone with you as a witness whenever you see your landlord
- get together with other tenants who have the same landlord.
In an emergency, such as if you have been locked out, contact the council. There is usually an officer who deals with harassment and illegal eviction. If they are not available to help immediately or if violence has been threatened, you should also call the police.
Does it matter what type of tenancy I have?
Yes. Most people who rent their home privately have an assured shorthold tenancy but there are other types of private tenancy, which can give you very different rights. It's important to check what kind of tenancy you have as it can have a big impact on how easy it is for you to take action to stop the harassment. For example, if you're an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord doesn't need a special legal reason to evict you, so you should get advice before you challenge her/him to ensure that you don't put your home at risk.
If you have an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy you are in a much stronger position as the landlord can't evict you without a valid legal reason. If you're not certain what kind of tenancy you have - Get Advice!