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Illegal Eviction and Harassment

What is Illegal Eviction?

Illegal or unlawful eviction is when your landlord, your landlord’s agent or someone acting on their behalf, unlawfully deprives you of all or part of your home or any other person forces you or attempts to force you to leave your accommodation without following the correct legal procedure and serving you with the proper notice.

Eviction could be by force, by changing the locks while you are out, or actions such as blocking access to a part of your home. Some examples might be: -

  • changing the locks 
  • moving into part of your home
  • physically throwing you out
  • stopping you from using part of your home            

What is Harassment?

Harassment can include anything done by a landlord, your landlord’s agent, or any other person acting on behalf of the owner, which deliberately unsettles your home life in your accommodation. Some examples might be: -

  • Threats, abuse or actual violence 
  • Threatening you if you refuse to leave the property. 
  • Cutting off or interfering with services, (water, gas or electricity supply) 
  • Entering your home without your permission whether you are present or not  
  • Changing the locks or removing your belongings. 
  • Unreasonably stopping you from having visitors to stay 
  • Sending in builders without notice or visiting at unsociable hours 
  • Harassment because of your age, race, gender or sexuality 
  • Constant telephone calls and/or text messages.            

The most common reason for harassment is that your landlord wants you to leave your home or wants to stop you doing something, such as complaining to the council about the condition of the property, or you ask them to carry out repairs.

What must my landlord do to legally evict me?

The procedure for your landlord to legally evict you will depend on the type of tenancy you have, but most people who rent their home can only be forced to leave by a Court order.  In the majority of cases, most tenants are entitled to a written notice to leave a property (usually 2 months) even if your landlord did not give you a written tenancy agreement to live there in the first place.  

After the Notice period has ended, the Landlord would then have to apply to the Courts for a Possession Order.  Even at this stage, the Court can refuse to grant a landlord a Possession Order.

If you receive a letter from your landlord asking you to leave, seek advice immediately to check whether you will have to leave or not.

What can I do if my landlord is harassing me?

There are steps you can take if you feel you are being harassed:

  • Keep a diary of incidents including dates and times with photographs. This will be evidence if you go to court. 
  • Record details of any conversations you may have with your landlord or threats that he may have made
  • Ask your landlord to put everything in writing. 
  • Keep a copy of your tenancy agreement and any notices and letters that the landlord sends you
  • Have someone else with you to witness meetings/dealings with your landlord. 
  • Note the names and addresses of people involved including witnesses
  • Report incidents to the police and ensure they log your complaints. 
  • Seek assistance from a solicitor that specialises in housing law/tenancies.
  • If all else fails, you can go to court for a remedy.            

What can I do in an emergency?

You should call the police immediately if you have been threatened or assaulted, if your property has been damaged or stolen, or if you have been locked out.  Ask for a copy of the crime reference number. 

If police officers are called out, make a note of their names as well as the number that is on the left shoulder of their jackets.

What can the Council do?

  • It can prosecute harassment and illegal eviction cases.  
  • It can explain the law to your landlord.  
  • If you have a case worth taking to court, it may help prepare and present your case. 

Can I take any other legal action?

A solicitor may also help you take civil proceedings against your landlord. This can take place alongside any criminal proceedings. 

A solicitor can apply on your behalf to the County Court for an order, called an injunction, to force your landlord to stop the harassment or to order them to let you back into your accommodation.

Am I entitled to any Compensation?

You may be able to ask the County Court for compensation or ‘damages’ for harassment or illegal eviction.   Compensation can be for:

  • General damages
  • Loss or damage to your property
  • Physical injury, losing your home, general inconvenience and suffering
  • Special damages. 
  • For the value of items destroyed or damaged. For example, if your landlord threw away your clothing. 
  • Aggravated damages. 
  • Awarded if you have suffered very badly because of the treatment received. 
  • Exemplary damages             

Please be aware that compensation is awarded in particular circumstances and at the discretion of the Court.    The Court will look at, amongst other issues, whether the landlord’s actions were done for profit.

Should I contact a Solicitor?

Newcastle Housing Advice service will be able to provide you with advice and with a list of local solicitors who specialise in housing law. You will also be able to find a list of your local solicitors in the Yellow Pages or Thomson Directory. 

Will I get help with my legal expenses?

If you are in receipt of certain benefits you will usually be eligible for Legal Aid. People on low incomes may also be eligible for assistance. Remember to always ask your solicitor if Legal Aid will cover your costs.

Where can I get further advice and assistance?

If you believe that you are being harassed or have been illegally evicted, please visit the new 'drop in centre' in Merrial Street, Newcastle (below the Civic Offices)or contact the Newcastle Housing Advice Service by phoning 01782 635200 (option 3)

or by

visiting a local Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice agency

You can also download  the ‘Illegal Eviction & Harassment report form’ which should be submitted to the Council’s Legal Department or you can complete the form online.

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