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 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 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
Lancaster City Council
Morecambe Town Hall
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01524 582257
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
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.
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.
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:
Lancaster Town Hall
Tel: 01524 582965
Morecambe and Heysham Citizens Advice Bureau
87 Queen Street
Tel: 08444 994197
North Lancashire Citizens Advice Bureau
87 King Street
Tel: 01524 400405
Last updated: 14 March 2016