Harassment by a private landlord

It's harassment if your landlord tries to force you to leave by disrupting your life. Find out what you can do to stop it.

Landlord harassment is an offence

Harassment is action taken by your landlord to deliberately disrupt your life at home or make you leave. Harassment is a criminal offence.

A landlord could be guilty of harassment if they:

  • won't let you live in your home in peace
  • act in a way that's meant to make you leave your home
  • try to take away your legal rights as a tenant

Harassment can also be committed by someone else, for example the landlord’s agent, family or letting agent.

Read Shelter's factsheet Illegal eviction for more information on being evicted illegally.

How landlords harass tenants

Harassment can take many forms. It counts as harassment if your landlord or someone acting on their behalf:

  • cuts off your gas, electricity or water supply
  • is violent or threatens you with violence 
  • opens your mail or removes your belongings

Your landlord could also be guilty of harassment if they enter your home without your permission or send builders in without notice or at unsocial hours. This should not happen unless there is an emergency, for example if urgent repairs are needed.

It's illegal for your landlord to harass you because of your gender, race or sexuality.

How to stop landlord harassment

There are steps you can take to try to stop landlord harassment. These steps could also help if you decide to take legal action.

Keep records

Ask your landlord to put all communications with you in writing. Do the same yourself and keep copies. That way, you will have a record of all dealings with your landlord and of any disputes as they happen.

If you do decide to take action against your landlord, any records you keep will be useful evidence. This can include a diary, notes on your calendar, photos and videos.

Contact your landlord

Write to your landlord to ask them to stop the harassment. If this doesn't work, write to them saying that if the harassment continues you will take legal action.

Contact the police

Call the police on 999 if you are being threatened and are in immediate danger.

Get help and advice

Contact your local council for help. The council's tenancy relations officer or someone with similar duties could speak to your landlord on your behalf. 

If you're forced to leave your home because of harassment, the council's homelessness department may help you with emergency accommodation.

For urgent advice call Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.  

Get an injunction

Legal aid is available for injunctions against landlords who harass tenants. An injunction is a court order that orders someone to do something or stop doing something. You'll need the help of a solicitor or adviser to get one.

You may be eligible for legal aid if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.

Contact Civil Legal Advice to find out if you can get legal aid to help you get an injunction.

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