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How to deal with harassment from landlords or agents

Understand your tenancy rights

Knowing your rights can help you:

  • stand up to your landlord or letting agent

  • not give in to illegal pressure to leave your home

  • tell people like the council or the police what is happening

You do not need a written agreement to have tenancy rights.

You have tenancy rights even if you've been given notice or owe rent.

You have these rights until you end your tenancy or are evicted by bailiffs.

Do not move out under pressure.

Get help to deal with harassment if your landlord or agent is hard to deal with.

How legal eviction works

Your landlord usually has to follow 3 steps to evict you:

  1. Give you a notice to leave

  2. Get a court order if you stay after the notice ends

  3. Ask the court bailiffs to evict you if you stay after the date on the court order

It takes several months to get though these steps.

It's an illegal eviction if your landlord tries to make you leave without taking these steps.

Pressure to leave after a notice

If you're given any type of notice to leave, you should:

  • check if the notice is legal

  • decide if you want to leave

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. This means your landlord could give you a section 21 notice or a section 8 notice.

Find out how to:

If you're in emergency or asylum housing

Report any harassment in emergency housing to:

Reporting harassment does not affect your homeless application or asylum application.

If you live in emergency or asylum housing, your housing provider usually does not need a court order to evict you. But they need a reason to ask you to leave.

If you live with your landlord

If you're a lodger, your landlord does not need a court order to evict you.

You're usually a lodger if you live with your landlord and share a kitchen, bathroom or living room with them.

Missed rent payments

Your landlord does not have the right to harass you if you have rent arrears.

Your landlord can:

  • contact you about missed payments or rent arrears

  • take court action if you owe them money

They must not make threats of illegal eviction.

They should not keep turning up at your home to ask for money, especially if you've made it clear that you cannot pay at the moment.

You must try to pay your rent on time and agree how to pay off the arrears.

Your right to quiet enjoyment

This means you have the right to live in your home without being disturbed by the landlord or people they send round to your home.

You have this right even if you do not have a written agreement, or if your fixed term assured shorthold tenancy ends.

Your landlord might be breaking your right to quiet enjoyment if they:

  • abuse or threaten you

  • come into your home without permission

  • refuse to carry out repairs or safety checks

  • interfere with gas, electricity or water supply

  • bring up issues repeatedly in a threatening manner

  • visit a lot without notice, appointment or agreement

When your landlord comes round without asking

As a tenant you can decide who comes into your home. This is called 'exclusive possession'.

Your landlord cannot come in unless you agree.

But they might still need or want access in some situations.

Repairs and safety checks

Your landlord is responsible for keeping your home safe. You should let them in to do things like repairs and gas safety checks.

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

You should usually get at least 24 hours' written notice that they're coming.

Find out about letting people into your home for repairs and inspections.

Viewings when your tenancy is ending

Your landlord cannot enter your home or bring people in to view the property just because your tenancy is ending.

There might be words in your agreement that says you should allow viewings. This does not mean people can just come in without telling you. You can suggest a time that suits you.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Your rights might be different if you live in a shared house or HMO.

Your landlord can usually come into shared areas like kitchen and bathroom if you have a tenancy agreement for your bedroom and not the whole property.

They can only enter your room if you have a licence agreement, and not a tenancy. This is not common.

Your landlord must not access shared areas or rooms to harass you or other occupiers.

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

Last updated: 19 April 2024

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