How to deal with harassment from landlords or agents

What counts as harassment

Harassment is defined in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

It can include any action likely to interfere with your peace and comfort in your home.

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.

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

Examples of harassment

Types of behaviour that could count as harassment include:

  • 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

  • persistently cutting off gas, water or electricity

  • demands for money that you don't owe or can't pay

  • pressure to move out before your tenancy ends legally

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

These are called 'protected characteristics' under the Equality Act.

This type of harassment may also be classed as a hate crime.

Harassment if you owe rent

Rent arrears are not an excuse for landlords to harass tenants.

It's acceptable and reasonable for your landlord or agent to contact you about missed payments or increasing arrears.

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 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 won't 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.

Last updated: 1 October 2023

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