Illegal eviction and harassment: what to expect from the police
What the police can do
Illegal eviction and harassment from a landlord or someone acting for them are criminal offences. The police can step in and help if you’re at risk.
mediate if they’re present at a confrontation
warn the landlord that they may be about to commit a criminal offence
arrest the landlord if a criminal offence is committed
contact your local council to report events
Will the police always help?
If the attending police officers understand the law and carry out their professional duties they could help you keep your home.
However, the police often don’t understand that illegal eviction is a criminal matter and usually say it’s just a civil matter.
They sometimes side with the landlord or make a situation more confrontational instead of calming it down.
If they get it right they can help you keep your home.
What to do if you call them
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.
The police might say illegal eviction and harassment is a civil matter. If they do, tell them it's a criminal offence under Section 1, Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Ask for a crime reference number or CAD number, so you can quote it if you speak to them again.
If your landlord is at your property and is threatening you or trying to force you to leave you can call 999 for emergency help.
If the police side with the landlord
If the police are supporting the landlord, try to stay calm. Ask if you can speak to them without the landlord present.
Tell the police that:
it’s your home and you have a legal tenancy
you’ve checked your rights and the landlord must get a court order to evict you
eviction can only be carried out by court bailiffs
what the landlord is doing is a criminal offence
Ask them 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.
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 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