Your landlord must follow the correct procedures to evict you from your home. It's illegal eviction if they don't.
Illegal eviction is a criminal offence
It's a criminal offence for your landlord to evict you without following the correct legal steps for eviction. These are different depending on whether you are a private tenant, a council tenant or a housing association tenant.
Harassment is also a criminal offence. A landlord who tries to make you leave by threatening violence or making it hard for you to stay may be guilty of harassment.
Call the police if your landlord is violent or threatens violence towards you or anyone you live with.
Contact your local council to ask for help. It can prosecute your landlord for illegal eviction and harassment.
Actions that count as illegal eviction
It nearly always counts as illegal eviction if your landlord:
- forces you to leave by threatening or harassing you
- physically throws you out
- stops you from getting into certain parts of your home
It's also illegal eviction if your landlord changes the locks while you are out, if the correct procedure for eviction has not been followed.
Illegal eviction of private tenants
Before the bailiffs can come, your landlord must:
- give you notice to leave
- go to a court for a possession order
- apply to a court for bailiffs to evict you
It's illegal eviction if your landlord forces you to leave before bailiffs arrive, even if your landlord has obtained a court order requiring you to leave or has given you written notice to leave.
Find out more about how private tenants can be evicted.
Illegal eviction if you have a resident landlord or are in short-term housing
In some cases, a landlord doesn't need to send bailiffs to evict you. Your landlord usually only has to give you reasonable notice to leave to evict you from:
- a hostel
- accommodation you share with your landlord
- emergency accommodation arranged by the council because you're homeless
You must leave at the end of the notice period.
Reasonable notice is a week for a weekly rental agreement, a month for a monthly agreement. The minimum period of a notice to quit is 28 days and this is usually considered sufficient.
It's illegal eviction if your resident landlord doesn't give you reasonable notice to leave, changes the locks or forces you to leave before any notice given has expired.
What to do if you are facing illegal eviction
Contact the council
The council can prosecute a landlord for illegal eviction. Your local council should have a tenancy relations or similar service that can help if you are being threatened with illegal eviction or have been illegally evicted. Use the Gov.uk council search to find details of your local council.
Call the police
Ask the police for help if you're being illegally evicted. The police should come to your home if they can prevent violence or a breach of the peace. Call 999 in an emergency.
Sometimes the police may not know the law about illegal eviction. You can tell them that the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it a criminal offence for your landlord to evict you without following the correct legal steps. The police should not enable or assist an eviction by a landlord, but can act to stop a breach of the peace.
Show the police a copy of your tenancy agreement.
Get free legal advice and help
Call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444
Legal aid is available to fight unlawful eviction, to obtain an injunction for getting back into your home, and compensation.