If you are living in residential property the law protects you against harassment and illegal eviction. It does this by making harassment and illegal eviction criminal offences and by enabling a victim to claim damages through the civil court.
The law makes it an offence for a landlord to:
- commit acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with them
- persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home
- make a tenant leave their home, or stop using part of it
- do anything that stops a tenant doing the things they could normally expect to do
- take someone’s home away from him or her unlawfully
A person who is convicted by magistrates of an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 may have to pay a fine or be sent to prison for six months, or both. If the case goes to the Crown Court, the punishment can be prison for up to two years, or a fine, or both.
Where should I go for advice?
If you believe your landlord is trying to drive you out of your home you should speak to your local council. There may be a tenancy relations officer who can help or there may be someone in the housing or environmental health departments who specialises in harassment issues.
Alternatively, you should seek advice from a law centre, a housing aid centre, a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor.
The addresses of advice organisations are usually listed in the telephone directory or the local library, or can be obtained from your local council. If physical violence is involved, you should contact the police.
Local councils have the power to start legal proceedings for offences of harassment and illegal eviction under the Act. If the evidence justifies it, they can carry out an investigation and prosecute if they believe an offence has been committed. A local council also has compulsory purchase powers, which it can use in certain circumstances where there is extreme harassment.
More useful links
- Find your local council
- Problems with your landlord – how the council can help