Landlords guide to understanding harassment and illegal eviction

Are you planning to evict your tenant?

Please read on to understand what steps you must take to do this legally.
The correct procedure will depend on which tenancy agreement you issued. We advise that you get independent legal advice if you have any concerns about how to proceed.

For Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancies

  • You must serve a Section 21 notice to quit if you want the property vacated after a fixed term has ended. There is a specific form that you must use.
  • You must serve a Section 8 notice if they have broken the terms of the tenancy
  • If the tenants do not leave by the date on the eviction notice, you must apply to the Court for a possession order
  • If the tenant owes you rent - standard possession order
  • If you aren't making a claim for unpaid rent - accelerated possession order
  • If your tenants still do not leave, you will need to apply to the Court for a warrant for possession. This will enable bailiffs to remove the tenants from your property

You can find full guidance on how to evict tenants on the website. Further advice on court action and how to start a possession claim can be found on the same website.

Forcing a tenant out of a property, without using correct procedures, could be classed as illegal eviction. The tenant may start legal proceedings against you to claim damages, or apply for an injunction to get them back into the property.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 sets out the definition of illegal eviction and harassment.

Illegal eviction can occur if:

  • You do not serve the required notice, according to the tenancy type, to your tenants to leave the property
  • You change the locks without the tenant’s approval or knowledge
  • You evict your tenant without a court order
  • You force your tenant to leave the property without a warrant for possession. Only a bailiff can legally remove tenants from your property

You could be harassing the tenant if:

  • You prevent your tenant from using services, for example, stopping water or energy supply
  • You withhold keys
  • You refuse to carry out essential repairs to the property
  • You threaten the tenant with physical violence
  • You refuse to carry out essential repairs to the property
  • You demonstrate anti-social behaviour (including from an agent, friends or family)
  • You force occupiers to sign agreements that take away their legal rights
  • You pressure occupiers to leave where the legal process has not been followed
  • You remove or restrict essential services such as hot water or heating
  • You fail to pay bills so that services are cut off
  • You visit the property without warning, particularly late at night
  • You enter the property when the occupier is not there, or without their permission
  • You stop occupiers from having guests
  • You tamper with their mail
  • You persistently offer the occupiers money to leave
  • You intentionally move in other tenants who cause nuisance
  • You cause harassment because of gender, race, disability or sexuality

If you are accused of committing illegal eviction or harassment, you should seek legal advice immediately.


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