How to deal with harassment from landlords or agents

Understand your tenancy rights

Understanding your basic tenancy rights puts you in a stronger position.

It can help you:

  • stand up to your landlord or agent

  • recognise and resist illegal pressure to give up your home

  • explain your situation to other people, such as the council or the police

You don't need a written agreement to have tenancy rights, and they continue until you end your tenancy voluntarily or are evicted through the legal process.

Don't be pressured into giving up your home and your tenancy rights.

Landlords must follow a legal eviction process

Your landlord might harass you because they hope it will make you leave your home sooner than you need to by law.

For most tenants, there are 3 stages to eviction:

  1. notice

  2. court action

  3. eviction by bailiffs

Your landlord must follow the legal process or it's an illegal eviction.

This means they need to apply for a court order if you don't leave after the notice period ends. The whole process takes several months.

How to check if a notice is valid

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. If you have this type of tenancy your landlord might give you a section 21 notice or section 8 notice or both.

Find out how to:

Some private renters have different types of tenancy. For example, if you've lived there since before 1989 or if your landlord lives in the same building.

Check the notice rules for other types of private rented tenancy.

All section 21 notices must give at least 4 months' notice at the moment.

You can be given a shorter section 8 notice if your landlord has a legal reason to evict you. For example, rent arrears.

If you live with your landlord

If you're a lodger who shares a kitchen, bathroom or living room with your landlord, they won't need a court order to evict you when your agreement ends.

The right to live in your home without disturbance

During your tenancy, you should be able to enjoy and make use of your home without interference from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf.

This is called the 'right to quiet enjoyment'.

You have this right even you never had a written agreement, or if your fixed term assured shorthold tenancy has ended.

Examples of behaviour that could breach the right to quiet enjoyment include:

  • coming into your home without permission

  • refusing to carry out repairs or safety checks

  • interfering with gas, electricity or water supply

  • frequent visits without notice, appointment or agreement

  • threats or overly persistent communications about any issue

Landlord access to your home

As a tenant, you have control over who comes into your home.

This is called 'exclusive possession' or 'exclusive occupation'. It means your landlord can't come in without your permission.

Your landlord may still need or want access in some situations.

Repairs and safety checks

Your landlord is responsible for certain repairs and inspections in your home. For example, yearly gas safety checks.

You should allow access so your landlord can meet their legal responsibilities to keep your home safe.

This does not mean your landlord or contractors can just turn up or let themselves in.

They should usually give at least 24 hours' notice of an inspection in writing.

Find out more about access to your home for repairs and inspections.

Viewings at the end of your tenancy

Your landlord does not have an automatic right to enter your home just because your tenancy may be ending soon.

Some tenancy agreements contain clauses that say the tenant must allow viewings by new tenants towards the end of the tenancy.

If your agreement says this, you can suggest a convenient time for this to happen. Your landlord or agent can't just turn up or come in without notice or permission.

Coronavirus guidance says that viewings should only happen at the moment if you're leaving the tenancy voluntarily.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

You may have slightly different rights if you live in a shared house or HMO.

Most HMOs need to be licensed by the council. Harassment from a landlord, agent or manager of the building breaks HMO licensing rules.

Your landlord must still follow the legal eviction process and must not interfere with your peace and comfort in your home.

But your landlord can usually enter certain parts of the building unless you rent the whole property as joint tenants.

They may be able to enter your room if you have a contractual licence rather than a tenancy but this situation is not that common.

Your landlord must not use access to shared areas or rooms as an excuse to harass you or other occupiers.

If you're in emergency housing

Your landlord won't need a court order to evict you if you're placed in emergency housing after applying for either homeless help or asylum support.

But they must not harass you.

Report any harassment in emergency housing to:

This won't affect the outcome of your homeless application or asylum application.

Last updated: 29 July 2021

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