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

You do not need a written agreement to have tenancy rights. They continue until you end your tenancy voluntarily or are evicted through the legal process.

Do not be pressured into giving up your home and your tenancy rights.

Landlords must follow a legal eviction process

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 do not leave after the notice period ends. The whole process takes several months.

Pressure to leave after a notice

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

  • check if it's a legal notice

  • decide if you're willing to leave

Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. With this type of tenancy, 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:

This will not affect the outcome of your homeless application or asylum application.

Your housing provider does not need a court order to evict you but they will need a reason.

If you live with your landlord

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

Missed rent payments

Rent arrears do not give landlords a legal excuse to harass tenants.

Your landlord can:

  • contact you about missed payments or rent arrears

  • take action through the courts if you owe them money

But they must not pressure you with threats of illegal eviction.

They should not regularly turn up at your home demanding 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 come to an agreement about arrears.

Your right to quiet enjoyment

This means your right to make use of your home without disturbance from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf.

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

It could breach your right to quiet enjoyment if your landlord:

  • comes into your home without permission

  • refuses to carry out repairs or safety checks

  • interferes with gas, electricity or water supply

  • is abusive, threatening or overly persistent about any issue

  • visits frequently without notice, appointment or agreement

Unwanted visits or 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 cannot 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 keeping your home safe. You should allow access when needed. For example, for repairs or 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 of an inspection.

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

End of tenancy inspections and viewings

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

They cannot just turn up or come in without notice or permission.

Some agreements have clauses that say the tenant must allow inspections or viewings towards the end of the tenancy. You can suggest a convenient time if you have a clause like this in your agreement.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

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

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

They can only enter your room if you have a contractual licence rather than a tenancy. This is not that common.

Your landlord must not use access to 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 HMO licensing rules.

Last updated: 19 May 2022

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