What is illegal eviction?

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

Your landlord must follow rules on how and when they can evict you. 

It's a criminal offence for your landlord to evict you without following the correct legal steps for eviction.

The rules for eviction depend on whether you are a private tenant, a council tenant or a housing association tenant.

There are also different rules if you are a lodger in your landlord's home.

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. It can negotiate with your landlord and may prosecute them for illegal eviction and harassment.

Actions that count as illegal eviction

It's usually 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
  • changes the locks while you're out

Illegal eviction of private tenants

Only a bailiff can lawfully evict you from your home if you are a private tenant and have an assured shorthold tenancy, assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy.

Before the bailiffs can come, your landlord must give you notice to leave, go to a court for a possession order and apply to a court for bailiffs to evict you.

Three steps to eviction landlord must follow

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.

Find out more about how private tenants can be evicted.

Different rules apply if you are:

If you're an occupier with basic protection, your landlord must get a possession order and apply to a court for bailiffs to legally evict you.

Help with illegal eviction: contact the council

Get advice from the council if you're being illegally evicted.

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. They can negotiate with your landlord to try to get you back in to your home.

Your council may also be able to prosecute your landlord for illegal eviction.

Use the Gov.uk council search to find details of your local council.

Find out what the council can do about illegal eviction.

Call the police if you're being illegally evicted

Ask the police for help if you're being illegally evicted.  Call 999 in an emergency.

The police should come to your home if they can prevent violence or a breach of the peace.

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. Show the police a copy of your tenancy agreement.

The police should not help the landlord to evict you. They can act to stop a breach of the peace.

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 to claim compensation.

Find out more about what to do after illegal eviction.


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