Harassment and unlawful eviction

We believe that everyone has the right to a decent and secure home and we work with private landlords and their tenants to help achieve this.

If you are renting your home from a landlord or are living in a bed and breakfast you are a private tenant.

As a private tenant you:

  • Are entitled to live peacefully in your home
  • Cannot be forced to leave your home unless your landlord has followed the correct legal procedures.

Harassment

Harassment is when your landlord, or someone else acting for them does things to try and make you leave your home. It can include:

  • stopping the supplies of gas, electricity or water to your accommodation
  • refusing to do repairs
  • frequent unannounced visits, especially if they are late at night
  • entering your home when you're not there, without your permission
  • making threats and telling you to leave.

Unlawful eviction

Unlawful eviction is when your landlord or someone acting for them forces you to leave your home without following the proper legal procedures.

Unless you are sharing part of your accommodation with your landlord (such as a bathroom, kitchen or living room), you can only be forced to leave your home by the County Court bailiffs. For this to happen your landlord must serve a proper written notice telling you that your tenancy is being ended, and then must apply to the County Court for a Possession Order requiring you to leave. Only the bailiffs can enforce the Possession Order and force you to leave, this can not be done by your landlord.

Examples of unlawful eviction can include:

  • changing the locks when you are out
  • being physically thrown out
  • being stopped from getting into part or all of your home.

What should I do?

Most landlords want to provide good and secure homes for their tenants and have no intention of causing distress to their tenants or of breaking the law.

If you feel that you are being harassed, threatened with unlawful eviction or if you have already been evicted unlawfully, you should contact our housing standards team straight away:

Health and Housing Services
Housing Options
Lancaster City Council
Morecambe Town Hall
Marine Road
Morecambe
LA4 5AF

With your agreement the housing standards team will try and contact your landlord and explain the legal situation to them. They will ask your landlord to stop harassing you, and/or to let you back into your home.

Usually this contact is sufficient to solve the problem. If it doesn't work, and where there is enough evidence to show that your landlord's behaviour is illegal, the council can choose to prosecute. If this happens you will be asked to make a formal statement and to be a witness in court.


Other useful information

Civil action

As a private tenant you can also take legal action through your own solicitor if you are being harassed or have been unlawfully evicted.

Always keep a record

If you are suffering harassment or are being threatened with unlawful eviction always keep a diary about what's happened. It's very easy to forget later on, and written details will be useful if you want to inform the council or your own solicitor later on. It's also a good idea to take photographs if you can of anything the landlord may have done, or not done, to make you want to leave.

Access to your home

Your landlord has a legal right to enter your home for inspection and to carry out repairs but only after giving you a least 24 hours written notice. The inspection must be at a reasonable time, that is not in the middle of the night!

Call the police

If your landlord turns up unannounced you do not need to let him or her in. If they insist on getting in, call the police or the housing standards team.

Homelessness

If you have already been evicted you can also contact our homelessness team. They may be able to help you find alternative accommodation if your landlord refuses to let you back in.

Further information

For more information and advice contact us using the details at the bottom of this page.

There are other local agencies who may also be able to help you:

Housing Benefit
Lancaster Town Hall
Dalton Square
Lancaster
Tel: 01524 582965

Morecambe and Heysham Citizens Advice Bureau
87 Queen Street
Morecambe
Tel: 08444 994197

North Lancashire Citizens Advice Bureau
87 King Street
Lancaster
Tel: 01524 400405


See also

Last updated: 14 March 2016