Most landlords are open and friendly and can be relied upon to act in an appropriate manner. The following information is intended to give advice should the relationship with you landlord break down.
If you are a landlord who wants to evict someone, it is safer to get advice on the legal requirements first. If you don't, you may waste time, or more likely break the law.
Torbay Council is of the opinion that the best way to avoid confrontation and prevent comparatively minor misunderstandings escalating into serious disputes is to have good relationships between landlord and tenants. It is good practice to have a written agreement setting out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
A rent book should be provided for weekly tenants and is always advisable to record receipts. Rent should be paid regularly. If it is collected then it should be at a reasonable time of the day.
Most lettings end by agreement, both landlords and tenants should follow the correct procedures for terminating a tenancy and owners should make sure that they adhere to the strict procedures for obtaining possession.
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 created the offences of illegal eviction and harassment. If any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of the occupation of the premises he shall be guilty of an offence unless he proves that he had reasonable cause to believe that the occupier had ceased to reside there.
It is also an offence to commit Acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the occupiers or to persistently withdraw services. A serious view is taken of deliberate contravention's of these provisions and the Council is empowered to prosecute persons who commit offences.
For further information on illegal eviction please contact us.
If your landlord wants to evict you, the correct legal procedures must be followed. These vary according to circumstances, but often mean that you will be given a written Notice to Quit, or Notice of the Landlord's Intention to Seek Possession of the property that you occupy as tenant, followed by a Possession Order obtained in the County Court.
The law protects people living in residential property against harassment and illegal eviction. The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it an offence to:
- do acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with him/her and
- persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home.
A landlord, his or her agent, or someone who may or may not be connected with either of them, may do things that are distressing to the tenant and undermine their sense of security. These activities may or may not amount to harassment, as it would have to be interpreted by the courts. The landlord may fail to do certain things supposed to be done under the tenancy agreement.
A tenant who believes that an act or omission of the landlord's is being done to stop the tenant enjoying the property should speak to a member of staff within the Housing Advice Service. Alternatively, seek advice from a law centre, a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor.
What is Harassment?
Here are some examples of types of behaviour that can occur in cases of harassment. These examples should be treated as guidelines only:
- Withdrawal of Services
A landlord may be guilty of an offence if they persistently withdraw or withhold services, that are necessary for the tenant to be able to live in the property.
- Withholding Keys
If the absence of a key causes intolerable difficulties, and normal negotiation with the landlord fails to obtain one, the tenant should take legal advice.
- Anti-Social behaviour by landlord's agent
Life may be made intolerable for other tenants by a tenant who indulges in excessive noise late at night. There may be reasons for believing that the disruptive tenant is an agent of the landlord or that their behaviour is intended to drive the other tenants out.
- Demand for excessive repairs
The tenancy agreement should set out the responsibilities for repairs. If a landlord presents a tenant with a list of works, that the tenant believes are unnecessary, or not the tenant's responsibility, they should seek legal advice.
- Failure to carry out repairs
A landlord's failure to carry out repairs may have a reasonable explanation. Where the tenant has made reasonable approaches to the landlord and repairs have not been carried out, the tenant may wish to take matters further. The council may serve a notice on a landlord requiring them to carry out the necessary repair or works. The Housing Act 1988 should help to reassure tenants who complain to the council about the condition of their home.
- Repairs that are not completed
A landlord normally has a right of access to the property to carry out essential repairs. They should make arrangements with the tenant to gain access at a convenient time. If major works are started and left unfinished this may mean disruption and possibly the disconnection of services involved. This could cause considerable inconvenience to the tenant.
- Threats and physical violence
If a landlord uses language or physical behaviour that is threatening or violent against the tenant, the tenant should consult with the council.
- Illegal Eviction
A landlord's right to get the property back from a residential tenant can normally only be enforced through the courts. The details of seeking possession depends on the type of tenancy agreement in place, for example, assured or assured shorthold tenancies. Under the Housing Act 1988, for cases of illegal eviction and of harassment that cause a tenant to leave their home, the court may award damages based on the profit made by the landlord from illegally evicting the tenant.
If your landlord claims to know the law and tells you that you must leave, do not go, get advice immediately from the Council's Housing Advice Service, from a solicitor or from the Citizens Advice Bureau .
You will need to give the Council full details of any incidents, and any people involved, including witnesses. The Council will first try to resolve the problem through their legal department.
If this fails the Council will consider if it has enough evidence for a prosecution to be taken for either - Unlawful Eviction - or Harassment. Any prosecution will be in the name of the Council. You and any other witnesses will be required to give evidence in Court.
For further information and advice visit the following websites:
- CAB Advice Guide - If the landlord harasses the tenant
- Shelter Advice Guide -What counts as harassment
- Shelter Advice Guide - Harassment and illegal eviction
- Community Legal Advice
- Email: email@example.com
- Tel: 01803 208723
- Fax: 01803 208282