Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

How to deal with harassment from landlords or agents

What counts as harassment

Harassment can include any actions that interfere with your peace and comfort in your home.

Harassment is defined in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Tenants and most other occupiers including property guardians or renters with licence agreements are covered by this law.

Lodgers and subtenants who live with a resident landlord have less rights.

Harassment is a criminal offence

It's a criminal offence if a landlord or agent knows or believes their behaviour is likely to make you either:

  • give up your tenancy rights

  • leave the property before you have to by law

It can count as harassment if someone else acts on behalf of the landlord.

Examples of harassment

Behaviour that could count as harassment includes:

  • threatening to change the locks

  • opening or withholding your post

  • entering your home without permission

  • removing or interfering with your belongings

  • violent or intimidating language or behaviour

  • pressure to move out before your tenancy ends

  • cutting off gas, water or electricity more than once

  • demands for money that you do not owe or cannot pay

Discrimination and harassment because of disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity is illegal.

Find out what to do about this type of discrimination from landlords or agents.

Harassment if you owe rent

Your landlord cannot harass you because you owe rent.

It's reasonable for your landlord or agent to contact you about:

  • missed payments

  • rising rent arrears

But they must not pressure or threaten you.

They should not turn up at your home demanding money, especially if you've made it clear if you cannot pay right now.

Find out how to deal with missed rent payments.

Problems towards the end of the tenancy

Sometimes problems start or get worse if you or the landlord take steps to end the tenancy.

For example, you might have disagreements about:

  • if a notice is legal

  • getting repairs done

  • access to the property

  • when you intend to leave

  • unpaid rent or your deposit

Disputes over things like this will not always be harassment. For example, it may depend on how the landlord communicates with you about these issues.

It's important to understand your basic tenancy rights. Your rights only end if you choose to leave, or if you're evicted by court bailiffs.

Already kicked out or locked out?

Your landlord has probably broken the law.

Most landlords need a court order to evict tenants.

Only court bailiffs can carry out an eviction. It is illegal eviction if your landlord throws you out themselves.

Last updated: 17 July 2024

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help