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What to expect from the police at an illegal eviction

Illegal eviction and harassment are criminal offences.

Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.

The police can step in and help if you’re at risk of being evicted illegally.

They can:

  • warn the landlord that they may be about to commit a criminal offence

  • arrest the landlord if a criminal offence is committed

  • mediate if they’re present at a confrontation

  • contact your local council to report events

What to do if you call the police

Call 101 or your local police station before an illegal eviction happens to let them know you're at risk.

Report any harassment or threats that your landlord has made. The police will probably give advice over the phone.

Ask for a crime reference number or CAD number. You can quote it if you speak to them again.

You can call 999 for emergency help if your landlord is at your property and is threatening you or forcing you to leave.

It can help to have someone with you for support. Make a plan for who to call if your landlord turns up.

Will the police always help?

Sometimes the police side with the landlord or make a situation more confrontational instead of calming it down.

The attending officers could help you keep your home if they understand the law and carry out their professional duties.

The Metropolitan Police, Greater London Authority and Safer Renting have produced joint guidance for responding police officers in London.

The police might say illegal eviction and harassment is a civil matter. Tell them it's a criminal offence under section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

If the police side with the landlord

Ask if you can speak to the attending officers without the landlord present.

Tell the police that:

  • it’s your home and you have a legal tenancy

  • what the landlord is doing is a criminal offence

  • eviction can only be carried out by court bailiffs

  • you’ve checked your rights and the landlord must get a court order to evict you

Ask the police to contact the private renting team or tenancy relations officer at your local council so they can help explain your rights.

Use our template note for the police or show a copy to the attending officers.


Most tenants can only be evicted lawfully by an order of the court.

An eviction must be overseen by a county court bailiff or a high court enforcement officer.

If there is no court officer present, it is most likely an illegal eviction.

The landlord must apply to court to evict this tenant lawfully.


  • WARN the landlord or agent that they may well be committing a criminal offence and should leave.

  • PERSUADE the landlord to let the tenant back in, change the locks back or give the tenant a key.

  • GATHER EVIDENCE that may be relevant to a criminal offence. This could include assault, breach of the peace, or harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

  • ARREST THE LANDLORD OR AGENT under section 24(1), Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 if they are committing or about to commit an offence. This would include trying to get into the premises against the wishes of the tenant.

  • REPORT THE LANDORD TO THE COUNCIL - Use the London Assembly website if in a London borough. Outside of London you should contact a tenancy relations officer or the private sector housing team. 

  • CONTACT THE COUNCIL'S HOMELESS TEAM - If you cannot help the tenant to access their home, the homeless team may have a legal duty to provide emergency housing for some tenants. All councils have an out of hours team if it's after 5pm.


All residential occupiers are protected from harassment and illegal eviction. 

Under section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, it's a criminal offence to:

  • deliberately and unlawfully deprive the occupier of their occupation of the property

  • carry out acts intended to cause the occupier to give up the property or their rights under the tenancy

Criminal offences are prosecuted by the local authority.

Lodgers are not entitled to a court order before eviction. The landlord must have lived in the property and shared living space with the occupier throughout the agreement.

Squatters are not entitled to a court order before eviction. But an occupier is only a squatter if they entered the property knowing they were trespassing. This is rare.

A tenant without a written tenancy agreement or whose fixed term agreement has ended is still a tenant and can only be evicted lawfully by bailiffs.

You can download and save a copy:

Need more templates?

What do you want to tell your landlord or letting agent?

Last updated: 7 July 2023

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