How to deal with illegal eviction

If your landlord tries to kick you out

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Call your emergency contacts 

Call someone for support. You could call a friend or family member. If you've spoken to a renters union or the council you could call them too.

How to speak to your landlord

Speak calmly and explain that they are breaking the law. 

Explain what actions you have taken or will take, for example if you have:

  • spoken to the council

  • sought legal advice

  • spoken to the police 

Explain that you are protected by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and that they must only evict you by court appointed bailiffs. 

Tell them that penalties include:

  • an unlimited fine

  • a custodial prison sentence 

  • civil action with unlimited damages 

If you're not sure what to say you can show them this explainer.

This property is occupied under a legal tenancy agreement that falls under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

The tenancy is legally binding even if not in writing.

The landlord must apply to court to evict a tenant lawfully. Only court appointed bailiffs can enforce this.

Under Section 1 Protection from Eviction Act 1977, any individual who deliberately and unlawfully deprives the occupier of their occupation of this property is committing a criminal offence.

By law, you must stop all attempts to deprive the occupier of their occupation or risk arrest, a custodial prison sentence, a fine of up to £5,000 or civil action with unlimited damages.

Record what happens 

You could film your landlord to use as evidence later on. If you don’t want to film, note down what happened. 

Keep yourself safe

If the situation becomes violent or you feel unsafe it could be better to leave and come back.

If you do this your landlord will probably carry out the illegal eviction.  

You can use reasonable force such as changing the locks or breaking a window to get back into your home, but do it quickly.

If you cause damage you may have to pay for the repairs.

You could call the police

The police often don’t understand the law on illegal eviction so they may tell you it’s a civil matter.

The police will generally only come out to protect you if there’s a risk of violence. Otherwise they will probably advise by phone.

They could help mediate between you and your landlord and they can arrest your landlord.

Find out what you can expect from the police so you can decide whether you want to call them.

If you do call, make sure you get a CAD number and take down the ID numbers of the officers attending.

If the attending officers say it is a civil matter - show them this explainer:

FOR THE ATTENTION OF ATTENDING POLICE OFFICERS 

This property is being occupied under a legal tenancy agreement that falls under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. 

The landlord must apply to court to evict this tenant lawfully. Only court appointed bailiffs can enforce this. 

Under section 1 Protection from Eviction Act 1977, any individual who deliberately and unlawfully deprives the occupier of their occupation of this property is committing a criminal offence.

The same applies to any individual who carries out acts calculated to cause the occupier to give up occupation without following the lawful process. 

WHAT POLICE OFFICERS CAN DO 

When attending an incident which may involve a Protection from Eviction Act 1977 offence, it is suggested that police officers: 

  • NOTE details which may be relevant to the above offences, including admissions, accusations, etc.  

  • WARN the landlord where you suspect they may be committing, or about to commit an offence, that this will be reported to the appropriate authority. 

  • Consider ARRESTING the landlord if they try to get into the premises against the wishes of the residential occupier (S.6[1] Criminal Law Act 1977).  

  • Consider appropriate action in relation to OTHER OFFENCES e.g. assault, breach of the peace, harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.  

  • Try and persuade both parties to PUT THINGS BACK as they were (e.g. try to get the landlord to allow the tenant back in, to change the locks back or to give the tenant a key).  

  • Do not get involved in civil disputes about rent, repairs – these are unlikely to have much bearing on the criminal law.  

  • REFER the tenant and landlord to the local authority’s private sector housing team.

  • INFORM the local authority’s private sector housing team of any relevant incident as soon as possible.

Last updated: 30 March 2021

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