Illegal eviction and harassment: what to expect from the police

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

Will the police always help?

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

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.

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

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.

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.

SHELTER'S ADVICE FOR 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.

You can download and save a copy:

Word template: Illegal eviction information for the police (docx 16kb)

OpenDocument template: Illegal eviction information for the police (odt 10kb)

Need more templates?

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Last updated: 30 May 2022

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