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 that 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, harassment or victimisation because of your disability, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation also breaches the Equality Act.
Harassment if you owe rent
Rent arrears do not give a legal 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 that you can't pay at the moment.
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: 29 March 2021